Homilies 1–40

Homily 1 on the Gospel of John (Preface)

that are spectators of the heathen games, when they have learned that a distinguished athlete and winner of crowns has come from any quarter, run all together to view his wrestling, and all his skill and strength; and you мая see the whole theater of many ten thousands, all there straining their eyes both of body and mind, that nothing of what is done мая escape them. So again these same persons, if any admirable musician come among them, leave all that they had in hand, which often is necessary and pressing business, and mount the steps, and sit listening very attentively to the words and the accompaniments, and criticising the agreement of the two. This is what the

Again; those who are skilled in rhetoric do just the same with respect to the sophists, for they too have their theaters, and their audience, and clappings of hands, and noise, and closest criticism of what is said.

And if in the case of rhetoricians, musicians, and athletes, people sit in the one case to look on, in the other to see at once and to listen with such earnest attention; what zeal, what earnestness ought you in reason to display, when it is no musician or debater who now comes forward to a trial of skill, but when a man is speaking from heaven, and utters a voice plainer than thunder? For he has pervaded the whole earth with the sound; and occupied and filled it, not by the loudness of the cry, but by moving his tongue with the grace of God.

And what is wonderful, this sound, great as it is, is neither a harsh nor an unpleasant one, but sweeter and more delightful than all harmony of music, and with more skill to soothe; and besides all this, most holy, and most awful, and full of mysteries so great, and bringing with it goods so great, that if men were exactly and with ready mind to receive and keep them, they could no longer be mere men nor remain upon the earth, but would take their stand above all the things of this life, and having adapted themselves to the condition of angels, would dwell on earth just as if it were heaven.

2. For the son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world, who holds the keys of heaven, who drank the cup of Christ, and was baptized with His baptism, who lay upon his Master's bosom with much confidence, this man comes forward to us now; not as an actor of a play, not hiding his head with a mask, (for he has another sort of words to speak,) nor mounting a platform, nor striking the stage with his foot, nor dressed out with apparel of gold, but he enters wearing a robe of inconceivable beauty. For he will appear before us having put on Christ Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27, having his beautiful feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace Ephesians 6:15; wearing a girdle not about his waist, but about his loins, not made of scarlet leather nor daubed outside with gold, but woven and composed of truth itself. Now will he appear before us, not acting a part, (for with him there is nothing counterfeit, nor fiction, nor fable,) but with unmasked head he proclaims to us the truth unmasked; not making the audience believe him other than he is by carriage, by look, by voice, needing for the delivery of his message no instruments of music, as harp, lyre, or any other the like, for he effects all with his tongue, uttering a voice which is sweeter and more profitable than that of any harper or any music. All heaven is his stage; his theater, the habitable world; his audience, all angels; and of men as many as are angels already, or desire to become so, for none but these can hear that harmony aright, and show it forth by their works; all the rest, like little children who hear, but what they hear understand not, from their anxiety about sweetmeats and childish playthings; so they too, being in mirth and luxury, and living only for wealth and power and sensuality, hear sometimes what is said, it is true, but show forth nothing great or noble in their actions through fastening themselves for good to the clay of the brickmaking. By this Apostle stand the powers from above, marveling at the beauty of his soul, and his understanding, and the bloom of that virtue by which he drew unto him Christ Himself, and obtained the grace of the Spirit. For he has made ready his soul, as some well-fashioned and jeweled lyre with strings of gold, and yielded it for the utterance of something great and sublime to the Spirit.

3. Seeing then it is no longer the fisherman the son of Zebedee, but He who knows the deep things of God 1Corinthians 2:10, the Holy Spirit I mean, that strikes this lyre, let us hearken accordingly. For he will say nothing to us as a man, but what he says, he will say from the depths of the Spirit, from those secret things which before they came to pass the very Angels knew not; since they too have learned by the voice of John with us, and by us, the things which we know. And this has another Apostle declared, saying, To the intent that unto the principalities and powers might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God. Ephesians 3:10 If then principalities, and powers, and Cherubim, and Seraphim, learned these things by the Church, it is very clear that they were exceedingly earnest in listening to this teaching; and even in this we have been not a little honored, that the Angels learned things which before they knew not with us; I do not at present speak of their learning by us also. Let us then show much silence and orderly behavior; not today only, nor during the day on which we are hearers, but during all our life, since it is at all times good to hear Him. For if we long to know what is going on in the palace, what, for instance, the king has said, what he has done, what counsel he is taking concerning his subjects, though in truth these things are for the most part nothing to us; much more is it desirable to hear what God has said, especially when all concerns us. And all this will this man tell us exactly, as being a friend of the King Himself, or rather, as having Him speaking within himself, and from Him hearing all things which He hears from the Father. I have called you friends, He says, for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you. John 15:15

4. As then we should all run together if we saw one from above bend down on a sudden from the height of heaven, promising to describe exactly all things there, even so let us be disposed now. It is from thence that this Man speaks to us; He is not of this world, as Christ Himself declares, You are not of the world John 15:19, and He has speaking within him the Comforter, the Omnipresent, who knows the things of God as exactly as the soul of man knows what belongs to herself, the Spirit of holiness, the righteous Spirit, the guiding Spirit, which leads men by the hand to heaven, which gives them other eyes, fitting them to see things to come as though present, and giving them even in the flesh to look into things heavenly. To Him then let us yield ourselves during all our life in much tranquillity. Let none dull, none sleepy, none sordid, enter here and tarry; but let us remove ourselves to heaven, for there He speaks these things to those who are citizens there. And if we tarry on earth, we shall gain nothing great from thence. For the words of John are nothing to those who do not desire to be freed from this swinish life, just as the things of this world to him are nothing. The thunder amazes our souls, having sound without significance; but this man's voice troubles none of the faithful, yea, rather releases them from trouble and confusion; it amazes the devils only, and those who are their slaves. Therefore that we мая know how it amazes them, let us preserve deep silence, both external and mental, but especially the latter; for what advantage is it that the mouth be hushed, if the soul is disturbed and full of tossing? I look for that calm which is of the mind, of the soul, since it is the hearing of the soul which I require. Let then no desire of riches trouble us, no lust of glory, no tyranny of anger, nor the crowd of other passions besides these; for it is not possible for the ear, except it be cleansed, to perceive as it ought the sublimity of the things spoken; nor rightly to understand the awful and unutterable nature of these mysteries, and all other virtue which is in these divine oracles. If a man cannot learn well a melody on pipe or harp, unless he in every way strain his attention; how shall one, who sits as a listener to sounds mystical, be able to hear with a careless soul?

5. Wherefore Christ Himself exhorted, saying, Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine. Matthew 7:6 He called these words pearls, though in truth they be much more precious than they, because we have no substance more precious than that. For this reason too He is wont often to compare their sweetness to honey, not that so much only is the measure of their sweetness, but because among us there is nothing sweeter. Now, to show that they very exceedingly surpass the nature of precious stones, and the sweetness of any honey, hear the prophet speaking concerning them, and declaring this superiority; More to be desired are they, he says than gold and much precious stone; sweeter are they also than honey and the honeycomb. Psalm 19:10 But to those (only) who are in health; wherefore he has added, For your servant keeps them. And again in another place calling them sweet he has added, to my throat. For he says, How sweet are your words unto my throat. Psalm 119:103 And again he insists on the superiority, saying, Above honey and the honeycomb to my mouth. For he was in very sound health. And let not us either come near to these while we are sick, but when we have healed our soul, so receive the food that is offered us.

It is for this reason that, after so long a preface, I have not yet attempted to fathom these expressions (of St. John), in order that every one having laid aside all manner of infirmity, as though he were entering into heaven itself, so мая enter here pure, and freed from wrath and carefulness and anxiety of this life, of all other passions. For it is not otherwise possible for a man to gain from hence anything great, except he have first so cleansed anew his soul. And let no one say that the time to the coming communion is short, for it is possible, not only in five days, but in one moment, to change the whole course of life. Tell me what is worse than a robber and a murderer, is not this the extremest kind of wickedness? Yet such an one arrived straight at the summit of excellence, and passed into Paradise itself, not needing days, nor half a day, but one little moment. So that a man мая change suddenly, and become gold instead of clay. For since what belongs to virtue and to vice is not by nature, the change is easy, as being independent of any necessity. If you be willing and obedient, He says, you shall eat the good of the land. Isaiah 1:19 Do you see that there needs the will only? will – not the common wishing of the multitude – but earnest will. For I know that all are wishing to fly up to heaven even now; but it is necessary to show forth the wish by works. The merchant too wishes to get rich; but he does not allow his wish to stop with the thought of it; no, he fits out a ship, and gets together sailors, and engages a pilot, and furnishes the vessel with all other stores, and borrows money, and crosses the sea, and goes away into a strange land, and endures many dangers, and all the rest which they know who sail the sea. So too must we show our will; for we also sail a voyage, not from land to land, but from earth to heaven. Let us then so order our reason, that it be serviceable to steer our upward course, and our sailors that they be obedient to it, and let our vessel be stout, that it be not swamped amidst the reverses and despondencies of this life, nor be lifted up by the blasts of vainglory, but be a fast and easy vessel. If so we order our ship, and so our pilot and our crew, we shall sail with a fair wind, and we shall draw down to ourselves the Son of God, the true Pilot, who will not leave our bark to be engulfed, but, though ten thousand winds мая blow, will rebuke the winds and the sea, and instead of raging waves, make a great calm.

6. Having therefore ordered yourselves, so come to our next assembly, if at least it be at all an object of desire to you to hear somewhat to your advantage, and lay up what is said in your souls. But let not one of you be the wayside, none the stony ground, none the full of thorns. Matthew 13:4–7 Let us make ourselves fallow lands. For so shall we (the preachers) put in the seed with gladness, when we see the land clean, but if stony or rough, pardon us if we like not to labor in vain. For if we shall leave off sowing and begin to cut up thorns, surely to cast seed into ground unwrought were extreme folly.

It is not meet that he who has the advantage of such hearing be partaker of the table of devils. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? 2Corinthians 6:14 You stand listening to John, and learning the things of the Spirit by him; and do you after this depart to listen to harlots speaking vile things, and acting viler, and to effeminates cuffing one another? How will you be able to be fairly cleansed, if you wallow in such mire? Why need I reckon in detail all the indecency that is there? All there is laughter, all is shame, all disgrace, revilings and mockings, all abandonment, all destruction. See, I forewarn and charge you all. Let none of those who enjoy the blessings of this table destroy his own soul by those pernicious spectacles. All that is said and done there is a pageant of Satan. But you who have been initiated know what manner of covenants you made with us, or rather you made with Christ when He guided you into His mysteries, what you spoke to Him, what speech you had with Him concerning Satan's pageant; how with Satan and his angels you renounced this also, and promised that you would not so much as cast a glance that way. There is then no slight ground for fear, lest, by becoming careless of such promises, one should render himself unworthy of these mysteries.

7. Do you see not how in king's palaces it is not those who have offended, but those who have been honorably distinguished, that are called to share special favor, and are numbered among the king's friends. A messenger has come to us from heaven, sent by God Himself, to speak with us on certain necessary matters, and you leave hearing His will, and the message He sends to you, and sit listening to stage-players. What thunderings, what bolts from heaven, does not this conduct deserve! For as it is not meet to partake of the table of devils, so neither is it of the listening to devils; nor to be present with filthy raiment at that glorious Table, loaded with so many good things, which God Himself has provided. Such is its power, that it can raise us at once to heaven, if only we approach it with a sober mind. For it is not possible that he who is continually under the influence of the words of God, can remain in this present low condition, but he needs must presently take wing, and fly away to the land which is above, and light on the infinite treasures of good things; which мая it be that we all attain to, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom be glory to the Father and the All-holy Spirit, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 2 on the Gospel of John

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word.

Were John about to converse with us, and to say to us words of his own, we needs must describe his family, his country, and his education. But since it is not he, but God by him, that speaks to mankind, it seems to me superfluous and distracting to enquire into these matters. And yet even thus it is not superfluous, but even very necessary. For when you have learned who he was, and from whence, who his parents, and what his character, and then hear his voice and all his heavenly wisdom, then you shall know right well that these (doctrines) belong not to him, but to the Divine power stirring his soul.

From what country then was he? From no country; but from a poor village, and from a land little esteemed, and producing no good thing. For the Scribes speak evil of Galilee, saying, Search and look, for out of Galilee arises no prophet. John 7:52 And the Israelite indeed speaks ill of it, saying, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? And being of this land, he was not even of any remarkable place in it, but of one not even distinguished by name. Of this he was, and his father a poor fisherman, so poor that he took his sons to the same employment. Now you all know that no workman will choose to bring up his son to succeed him in his trade, unless poverty press him very hard, especially where the trade is a mean one. But nothing can be poorer, meaner, no, nor more ignorant, than fishermen. Yet even among them there are some greater, some less; and even there our Apostle occupied the lower rank, for he did not take his prey from the sea, but passed his time on a certain little lake. And as he was engaged by it with his father and his brother James, and they mending their broken nets, a thing which of itself marked extreme poverty, so Christ called him.

As for worldly instruction, we мая learn from these facts that he had none at all of it. Besides, Luke testifies this when he writes not only that he was ignorant, but that he was absolutely unlettered. Acts 4:13 As was likely. For one who was so poor, never coming into the public assemblies, nor falling in with men of respectability, but as it were nailed to his fishing, or even if he ever did meet any one, conversing with fishmongers and cooks, how, I say, was he likely to be in a state better than that of the irrational animals? How could he help imitating the very dumbness of his fishes?

2. This fisherman then, whose business was about lakes, and nets, and fish; this native of Bethsaida of Galilee; this son of a poor fisherman, yes, and poor to the last degree; this man ignorant, and to the last degree of ignorance too, who never learned letters either before or after he accompanied Christ; let us see what he utters, and on what matters he converses with us. Is it of things in the field? Is it of things in rivers? On the trade in fish? For these things, perhaps, one expects to hear from a fisherman. But fear not; we shall hear nought of these; but we shall hear of things in heaven, and what no one ever learned before this man. For, as might be expected of one who speaks from the very treasures of the Spirit, he has come bringing to us sublime doctrines, and the best way of life and wisdom, [as though just arrived from the very heavens; yea, rather such as it was not likely that all even there should know, as I said before. ] Do these things belong to a fisherman? Tell me. Do they belong to a rhetorician at all? To a sophist or philosopher? To every one trained in the wisdom of the Gentiles? By no means. The human soul is simply unable thus to philosophize on that pure and blessed nature; on the powers that come next to it; on immortality and endless life; on the nature of mortal bodies which shall hereafter be immortal; on punishment and the judgment to come; on the enquiries that shall be as to deeds and words, as to thoughts and imaginations. It cannot tell what is man, what the world; what is man indeed, and what he who seems to be man, but is not; what is the nature of virtue, what of vice.

3. Some of these things indeed the disciples of Plato and Pythagoras enquired into. Of the other philosophers we need make no mention at all; they have all on this point been so excessively ridiculous; and those who have been among them in greater esteem than the rest, and who have been considered the leading men in this science, are so more than the others; and they have composed and written somewhat on the subject of polity and doctrines, and in all have been more shamefully ridiculous than children. For they have spent their whole life in making women common to all, in overthrowing the very order of life, in doing away the honor of marriage, and in making other the like ridiculous laws. As for doctrines on the soul, there is nothing excessively shameful that they have left unsaid; asserting that the souls of men become flies, and gnats, and bushes, and that God Himself is a soul; with some other the like indecencies.

And not this alone in them is worthy of blame, but so is also their ever-shifting current of words; for since they assert everything on uncertain and fallacious arguments, they are like men carried here and there in Euripus, and never remain in the same place.

Not so this fisherman; for all he says is infallible; and standing as it were upon a rock, he never shifts his ground. For since he has been thought worthy to be in the most secret places, and has the Lord of all speaking within him, he is subject to nothing that is human. But they, like persons who are not held worthy even in a dream to set foot in the king's palace, but who pass their time in the forum with other men, guessing from their own imagination at what they cannot see, have erred a great error, and, like blind or drunken men in their wandering, have dashed against each other; and not only against each other, but against themselves, by continually changing their opinion, and that ever on the same matters.

4. But this unlettered man, the ignorant, the native of Bethsaida, the son of Zebedee, (though the Greeks mock ten thousand times at the rusticity of the names, I shall not the less speak them with the greater boldness.) For the more barbarous his nation seems to them, and the more he seems removed from Grecian discipline, so much the brighter does what we have with us appear. For when a barbarian and an untaught person utters things which no man on earth ever knew, and does not only utter, (though if this were the only thing it were a great marvel,) but besides this, affords another and a stronger proof that what he says is divinely inspired, namely, the convincing all his hearers through all time; who will not wonder at the power that dwells in him? Since this is, as I said, the strongest proof that he lays down no laws of his own. This barbarian then, with his writing of the Gospel, has occupied all the habitable world. With his body he has taken possession of the center of Asia, where of old philosophized all of the Grecian party, shining forth in the midst of his foes, dispersing their darkness, and breaking down the stronghold of devils: but in soul he has retired to that place which is fit for one who has done such things.

5. And as for the writings of the Greeks, they are all put out and vanished, but this man's shine brighter day by day. For from the time that he (was) and the other fishermen, since then the (doctrines) of Pythagoras and of Plato, which seemed before to prevail, have ceased to be spoken of, and most men do not know them even by name. Yet Plato was, they say, the invited companion of kings, had many friends, and sailed to Sicily. And Pythagoras occupied Magna Græcia, and practiced there ten thousand kinds of sorcery. For to converse with oxen, (which they say he did,) was nothing else but a piece of sorcery. As is most clear from this. He that so conversed with brutes did not in anything benefit the race of men, but even did them the greatest wrong. Yet surely, the nature of men was better adapted for the reasoning of philosophy; still he did, as they say, converse with eagles and oxen, using sorceries. For he did not make their irrational nature rational, (this was impossible to man,) but by his magic tricks he deceived the foolish. And neglecting to teach men anything useful, he taught that they might as well eat the heads of those who begot them, as beans. And he persuaded those who associated with him, that the soul of their teacher had actually been at one time a bush, at another a girl, at another a fish.

Are not these things with good cause extinct, and vanished utterly? With good cause, and reasonably. But not so the words of him who was ignorant and unlettered; for Syrians, and Egyptians, and Indians, and Persians, and Ethiopians, and ten thousand other nations, translating into their own tongues the doctrines introduced by him, barbarians though they be, have learned to philosophize. I did not therefore idly say that all the world has become his theater. For he did not leave those of his own kind, and waste his labor on the irrational creatures, (an act of excessive vainglory and extreme folly,) but being clear of this as well as of other passions, he was earnest on one point only, that all the world might learn somewhat of the things which might profit it, and be able to translate it from earth to heaven.

For this reason too, he did not hide his teaching in mist and darkness, as they did who threw obscurity of speech, like a kind of veil, around the mischiefs laid up within. But this man's doctrines are clearer than the sunbeams, wherefore they have been unfolded to all men throughout the world. For he did not teach as Pythagoras did, commanding those who came to him to be silent for five years, or to sit like senseless stones; neither did he invent fables defining the universe to consist of numbers; but casting away all this devilish trash and mischief, he diffused such simplicity through his words, that all he said was plain, not only to wise men, but also to women and youths. For he was persuaded that the words were true and profitable to all that should hearken to them. And all time after him is his witness; since he has drawn to him all the world, and has freed our life when we have listened to these words from all monstrous display of wisdom; wherefore we who hear them would prefer rather to give up our lives, than the doctrines by him delivered to us.

6. From this then, and from every other circumstance, it is plain, that nothing of this man's is human, but divine and heavenly are the lessons which come to us by this divine soul. For we shall observe not sounding sentences, nor magnificent diction, nor excessive and useless order and arrangement of words and sentences, (these things are far from all true wisdom,) but strength invincible and divine, and irresistible force of right doctrines, and a rich supply of unnumbered good things. For their over-care about expression was so excessive, so worthy of mere sophists, or rather not even of sophists, but of silly striplings, that even their own chief philosopher introduces his own master as greatly ashamed of this art, and as saying to the judges, that what they hear from him shall be spoken plainly and without premeditation, not tricked out rhetorically nor ornamented with (fine) sentences and words; since, says he, it cannot surely be becoming, O men, that one at my age should come before you like a lad inventing speeches. And observe the extreme absurdity of the thing; what he has described his master avoiding as disgraceful, unworthy of philosophy and work for lads, this above all he himself has cultivated. So entirely were they given up to mere love of distinction.

And as, if you uncover those sepulchers which are whitened without you will find them full of corruption, and stench, and rotten bones; so too the doctrines of the philosopher, if you strip them of their flowery diction, you will see to be full of much abomination, especially when he philosophizes on the soul, which he both honors and speaks ill of without measure. And this is the snare of the devil, never to keep due proportion, but by excess on either hand to lead aside those who are entangled by it into evil speaking. At one time he says, that the soul is of the substance of God; at another, after having exalted it thus immoderately and impiously, he exceeds again in a different way, and treats it with insult, making it pass into swine and asses, and other animals of yet less esteem than these.

But enough of this; or rather even this is out of measure. For if it were possible to learn anything profitable from these things, we must have been longer occupied with them; but if it be only to observe their indecency and absurdity, more than requisite has been said by us already. We will therefore leave their fables, and attach ourselves to our own doctrines, which have been brought to us from above by the tongue of this fisherman, and which have nothing human in them.

7. Let us then bring forward the words, having reminded you now, as I exhorted you at the first, earnestly to attend to what is said. What then does this Evangelist say immediately on his outset?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. John 1:1 Do you see the great boldness and power of the words, how he speaks nothing doubting nor conjecturing, but declaring all things plainly? For this is the teacher's part, not to waver in anything he says, since if he who is to be a guide to the rest require another person who shall be able to establish him with certainty, he would be rightly ranked not among teachers, but among disciples.

But if any one say, What can be the reason that he has neglected the first cause, and spoken to us at once concerning the second? we shall decline to speak of first and second, for the Divinity is above number, and the succession of times. Wherefore we decline these expressions; but we confess that the Father is from none, and that the Son is begotten of the Father. Yes, it мая be said, but why then does he leave the Father, and speak concerning the Son? Why? Because the former was manifest to all, if not as Father, at least as God; but the Only-Begotten was not known; and therefore with reason did he immediately from the very beginning hasten to implant the knowledge of Him in those who knew Him not.

Besides, he has not been silent as to the Father in his writings on these points. And observe, I beg of you, his spiritual wisdom. He knows that men most honor the eldest of beings which was before all, and account this to be God. Wherefore from this point first he makes his beginning, and as he advances, declares that God is, and does not like Plato assert, sometimes that He is intellect, sometimes that He is soul; for these things are far removed from that divine and unmixed Nature which has nothing common with us, but is separated from any fellowship with created things, I mean as to substance, though not as to relation.

And for this reason he calls Him The Word. For since he is about to teach that this Word is the only-begotten Son of God, in order that no one мая imagine that His generation is passible, by giving Him the appellation of The Word, he anticipates and removes beforehand the evil suspicion, showing that the Son is from the Father, and that without His suffering (change).

8. Do you see then that as I said, he has not been silent as to the Father in his words concerning the Son? And if these instances are not sufficient fully to explain the whole matter, marvel not, for our argument is God, whom it is impossible to describe, or to imagine worthily; hence this man nowhere assigns the name of His essence, (for it is not possible to say what God is, as to essence,) but everywhere he declares Him to us by His workings. For this Word one мая see shortly after called Light, and the Light in turn named Life.

Although not for this reason only did he so name Him; this was the first reason, and the second was because He was about to declare to us the things of the Father. For all things, He says, that I have heard from my Father, I have made known unto you. John 15:15 He calls Him both Light and Life, for He has freely given to us the light which proceeds from knowledge, and the life which follows it. In short, one name is not sufficient, nor two, nor three, nor more, to teach us what belongs to God. But we must be content to be able even by means of many to apprehend, though but obscurely, His attributes.

And he has not called Him simply Word, but with the addition of the article, distinguishing Him from the rest in this way also. Do you see then that I said not without cause that this Evangelist speaks to us from heaven? Only see from the very beginning whither he has drawn up the soul, having given it wings, and has carried up with him the mind of his hearers. For having set it higher than all the things of sense, than earth, than sea, than heaven, he leads it by the hand above the very angels, above cherubim and seraphim, above thrones and principalities and powers; in a word, persuades it to journey beyond all created things.

9. What then? When he has brought us to such a height as this, is he in truth able to stop us there? By no means; but just as one by transporting into the midst of the sea a person who was standing on the beach, and looking on cities, and beaches, and havens, removes him indeed from the former objects, yet does not stay his sight anywhere, but brings him to a view without bound; so this Evangelist, having brought us above all creation, and escorted us towards the eternal periods which lie beyond it, leaves the sight suspended, not allowing it to arrive at any limit upwards, as indeed there is none.

For the intellect, having ascended to the beginning, enquires what beginning; and then finding the was always outstripping its imagination, has no point at which to stay its thought; but looking intently onwards, and being unable to cease at any point, it becomes wearied out, and turns back to things below. For this was in the beginning, is nothing else than expressive of ever being and being infinitely.

Do you see true philosophy and divine doctrines? Not like those of the Greeks, who assign times, and say that some indeed of the gods are younger, some elder. There is nothing of this with us. For if God Is, as certainly He Is, then nothing was before Him. If He is Creator of all things, He must be first; if Master and Lord of all, then all, both creatures and ages, are after Him.

10. I had desired to enter the lists yet on other difficulties, but perhaps our minds are wearied out; when therefore I have advised you on those points which are useful to us for the hearing, both of what has been said, and of what is yet to be said, I again will hold my peace. What then are these points? I know that many have become confused by reason of the length of what has been spoken. Now this takes place when the soul is heavy laden with many burdens of this life. For as the eye when it is clear and transparent is keen-sighted also, and will not easily be tired in making out even the minutest bodies; but when from some bad humor from the head having poured into it, or some smoke-like fumes having ascended to it from beneath, a kind of thick cloud is formed before the ball, this does not allow it clearly to perceive even any larger object; so is naturally the case with the soul. For when it is purified, and has no passion to disturb it, it looks steadfastly to the fit objects of its regard; but when, darkened by many passions, it loses its proper excellence, then it is not easily able to be sufficient for any high thing, but soon is wearied, and falls back; and turning aside to sleep and sloth, lets pass things that concern it with a view to excellence and the life thence arising, instead of receiving them with much readiness.

And that you мая not suffer this, (I shall not cease continually thus to warn you,) strengthen your minds, that you мая not hear what the faithful among the Hebrews heard from Paul. For to them he said that he had many things to say, and hard to be uttered Hebrews 5:11; not as though they were by nature such, but because, says he, you are dull of hearing. For it is the nature of the weak and infirm man to be confused even by few words as by many, and what is clear and easy he thinks hard to be comprehended. Let not any here be such an one, but having chased from him all worldly care, so let him hear these doctrines.

For when the desire of money possesses the hearer, the desire of hearing cannot possess him as well; since the soul, being one, cannot suffice for many desires; but one of the two is injured by the other, and, from division, becomes weaker as its rival prevails, and expends all upon itself.

And this is wont to happen in the case of children. When a man has only one, he loves that one exceedingly. But when he has become father of many, then also his dispositions of affection being divided become weaker.

If this happens where there is the absolute rule and power of nature, and the objects beloved are akin one with another, what can we say as to that desire and disposition which is according to deliberate choice; especially where these desires lie directly opposed to each other; for the love of wealth is a thing opposed to the love of this kind of hearing. We enter heaven when we enter here; not in place, I mean, but in disposition; for it is possible for one who is on earth to stand in heaven, and to have vision of the things that are there, and to hear the words from thence.

11. Let none then introduce the things of earth into heaven; let no one standing here be careful about what is at his house. For he ought to bear with him, and to preserve both at home and in his business, what he gains from this place, not to allow it to be loaded with the burdens of house and market. Our reason for entering in to the chair of instruction is, that thence we мая cleanse ourselves from the filth of the outer world; but if we are likely even in this little space to be injured by things said or done without, it is better for us not to enter at all. Let no one then in the assembly be thinking about domestic matters, but let him at home be stirring with what he heard in the assembly. Let these things be more precious to us than any. These concern the soul, but those the body; or rather what is said here concerns both body and soul. Wherefore let these things be our leading business, and all others but occasional employments; for these belong both to the future and the present life, but the rest neither to the one nor the other, unless they be managed according to the law laid down for these. Since from these it is impossible to learn not only what we shall hereafter be, and how we shall then live, but how we shall rightly direct this present life also.

For this house is a spiritual surgery, that whatever wounds we мая have received without, here we мая heal, not that we мая gather fresh ones to take with us hence. Yet if we do not give heed to the Spirit speaking to us, we shall not only fail to clear ourselves of our former hurts, but shall get others in addition.

Let us then with much earnestness attend to the book as it is being unfolded to us; since if we learn exactly its first principles and fundamental doctrines, we shall not afterwards require much close study, but after laboring a little at the beginning, shall be able, as Paul says, to instruct others also. Romans 15:14 For this Apostle is very sublime, abounding in many doctrines, and on these he dwells more than on other matters.

Let us not then be careless hearers. And this is the reason why we set them forth to you little by little, so that all мая be easily intelligible to you, and мая not escape your memory. Let us fear then lest we come under the condemnation of that word which says, If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin. John 15:22 For what shall we be profited more than those who have not heard, if even after hearing we go our way home bearing nothing with us, but only wondering at what has been said.

Allow us then to sow in good ground; allow us, that you мая draw us the more to you. If any man has thorns, let him cast the fire of the Spirit among them. If any has a hard and stubborn heart, let him by employing the same fire make it soft and yielding. If any by the wayside is trodden down by all kind of thoughts, let him enter into more sheltered places, and not lie exposed for those that will to invade for plunder: that so we мая see your cornfields waving with grain. Besides, if we exercise such care as this over ourselves, and apply ourselves industriously to this spiritual hearing, if not at once yet by degrees, we shall surely be freed from all the cares of life.

Let us therefore take heed that it be not said of us, that our ears are those of a deaf adder. Psalm 58:4 For tell me, in what does a hearer of this kind differ from a beast? And how could he be otherwise than more irrational than any irrational animal, who does not attend when God is speaking? And if to be well-pleasing to God is really to be a man, what else but a beast can he be who will not even hear how he мая succeed in this? Consider then what a misfortune it would be for us to fall down of our own accord from (the nature of) men to (that of) beasts, when Christ is willing of men to make us equal to angels. For to serve the belly, to be possessed by the desire of riches, to be given to anger, to bite, to kick, become not men, but beasts. Nay, even the beasts have each, as one мая say, one single passion, and that by nature. But man, when he has cast away the dominion of reason, and torn himself from the commonwealth of God's devising, gives himself up to all the passions, is no longer merely a beast, but a kind of many-formed motley monster; nor has he even the excuse from nature, for all his wickedness proceeds from deliberate choice and determination.

May we never have cause to suspect this of the Church of Christ. Indeed, we are concerning you persuaded of better things, and such as belong to salvation; but the more we are so persuaded, the more careful we will be not to desist from words of caution. In order that having mounted to the summit of excellencies, we мая obtain the promised goods. Which мая it come to pass that we all attain to, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory world without end. Amen.

Homily 3 on the Gospel of John

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word.

1. On the subject of attention in hearkening it is superfluous to exhort you any more, so quickly have you shown by your actions the effects of my advice. For your manner of running together, your attentive postures, the thrusting one another in your eagerness to get the inner places, where my voice мая more clearly be heard by you, your unwillingness to retire from the press until this spiritual assembly be dissolved, the clapping of hands, the murmurs of applause; in a word, all things of this kind мая be considered proofs of the fervor of your souls, and of your desire to hear. So that on this point it is superfluous to exhort you. One thing, however, it is necessary for us to bid and entreat, that you continue to have the same zeal, and manifest it not here only, but that also when you are at home, you converse man with wife, and father with son, concerning these matters. And say somewhat of yourselves, and require somewhat in return from them; and so all contribute to this excellent banquet.

For let no one tell me that our children ought not to be occupied with these things; they ought not only to be occupied with them, but to be zealous about them only. And although on account of your infirmity I do not assert this, nor take them away from their worldly learning, just as I do not draw you either from your civil business; yet of these seven days I claim that you dedicate one to the common Lord of us all. For is it not a strange thing that we should bid our domestics slave for us all their time, and ourselves apportion not even a little of our leisure to God; and this too when all our service adds nothing to Him, (for the Godhead is incapable of want,) but turns out to our own advantage? And yet when you take your children into the theaters, you allege neither their mathematical lessons, nor anything of the kind; but if it be required to gain or collect anything spiritual, you call the matter a waste of time. And how shall you not anger God, if you find leisure and assign a season for everything else, and yet think it a troublesome and unseasonable thing for your children to take in hand what relates to Him?

Do not so, brethren, do not so. It is this very age that most of all needs the hearing these things; for from its tenderness it readily stores up what is said; and what children hear is impressed as a seal on the wax of their minds. Besides, it is then that their life begins to incline to vice or virtue; and if from the very gates and portals one lead them away from iniquity, and guide them by the hand to the best road, he will fix them for the time to come in a sort of habit and nature, and they will not, even if they be willing, easily change for the worse, since this force of custom draws them to the performance of good actions. So that we shall see them become more worthy of respect than those who have grown old, and they will be more useful in civil matters, displaying in youth the qualities of the aged.

For, as I before said, it cannot be that they who enjoy the hearing of such things as these, and who are in the company of such an Apostle, should depart without receiving some great and remarkable advantage, be it man, woman, or youth, that partakes of this table. If we train by words the animals which we have, and so tame them, how much more shall we effect this with men by this spiritual teaching, when there is a wide difference between the remedy in each case, and the subject healed as well. For neither is there so much fierceness in us as in the brutes, since theirs is from nature, ours from choice; nor is the power of the words the same, for the power of the first is that of the human intellect, the power of the second is that of the might and grace of the Spirit. Let then the man who despairs of himself consider the tame animals, and he shall no longer be thus affected; let him come continually to this house of healing, let him hear at all times the laws of the Spirit, and on retiring home let him write down in his mind the things which he has heard; so shall his hopes be good and his confidence great, as he feels his progress by experience. For when the devil sees the law of God written in the soul, and the heart become tablets to write it on, he will not approach any more. Since wherever the king's writing is, not engraved on a pillar of brass, but stamped by the Holy Ghost on a mind loving God, and bright with abundant grace, that (evil one) will not be able even to look at it, but from afar will turn his back upon us. For nothing is so terrible to him and to the thoughts which are suggested by him as a mind careful about Divine matters, and a soul which ever hangs over this fountain. Such an one can nothing present annoy, even though it be displeasing; nothing puff up or make proud, even though it be favorable; but amidst all this storm and surge it will even enjoy a great calm.

2. For confusion arises within us, not from the nature of circumstances, but from the infirmity of our minds; for if we were thus affected by reason of what befalls us, then, (as we all sail the same sea, and it is impossible to escape waves and spray,) all men must needs be troubled; but if there are some who stand beyond the influence of the storm and the raging sea, then it is clear that it is not circumstances which make the storm, but the condition of our own mind. If therefore we so order the mind that it мая bear all things contentedly, we shall have no storm nor even a ripple, but always a clear calm.

After professing that I should say nothing on these points, I know not how I have been carried away into such a length of exhortation. Pardon my prolixity; for I fear, yes, I greatly fear lest this zeal of ours should ever become weaker. Did I feel confident respecting it, I would not now have said to you anything on these matters, since it is sufficient to make all things easy to you. But it is time in what follows to proceed to the matters proposed for consideration today; that you мая not come weary to the contest. For we have contests against the enemies of the truth, against those who use every artifice to destroy the honor of the Son of God, or rather their own. This remains for ever as it now is, nothing lessened by the blaspheming tongue, but they, by seeking eagerly to pull down Him whom they say they worship, fill their faces with shame and their souls with punishment.

What then do they say when we assert what we have asserted? That the words, 'in the beginning was the Word,' do not denote eternity absolutely, for that this same expression was used also concerning heaven and earth. What enormous shamelessness and irreverence! I speak to you concerning God, and do you bring the earth into the argument, and men who are of the earth? At this rate, since Christ is called Son of God, and God, Man who is called Son of God must be God also. For, I have said, You are Gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. Psalm 82:6 Will you contend with the Only-Begotten concerning Sonship, and assert that in that respect He enjoys nothing more than thou? By no means, is the reply. And yet you do this even though thou say not so in words. How? Because you say that thou by grace art partaker of the adoption, and He in like manner. For by saying that He is not Son by nature, thou only makest him to be so by grace.

However, let us see the proofs which they produce to us. In the beginning, it is said, God made the Heaven and the earth, and the earth was invisible and unformed. Genesis 1:2 And, There 'was' a man of Ramathaim Zophim. 1 Samuel 1:1 These are what they think strong arguments, and they are strong; but it is to prove the correctness of the doctrines asserted by us, while they are utterly powerless to establish their blasphemy. For tell me, what has the word was in common with the word made? What has God in common with man? Why do you mix what мая not be mixed? Why confound things which are distinct, why bring low what is above? In that place it is not the expression was only which denotes eternity, but that One was in the beginning. And that other, The Word was; for as the word being, when used concerning man, only distinguishes present time, but when concerning God, denotes eternity, so was, when used respecting our nature, signifies to us past time, and that too limited, but when respecting God it declares eternity. It would have been enough then when one had heard the words earth and man, to imagine nothing more concerning them than what one мая fitly think of a nature that came into being, for that which came to be, be it what it мая, has come to be either in time, or the age before time was, but the Son of God is above not only times, but all ages which were before, for He is the Creator and Maker of them, as the Apostle says, by whom also He made the ages. Now the Maker necessarily is, before the thing made. Yet since some are so senseless, as even after this to have higher notions concerning creatures than is their due, by the expression He made, and by that other, there was a man, he lays hold beforehand of the mind of his hearer, and cuts up all shamelessness by the roots. For all that has been made, both heaven and earth, has been made in time, and has its beginning in time, and none of them is without beginning, as having been made: so that when you hear that he made the earth, and that there was a man, you are trifling to no purpose, and weaving a tissue of useless folly.

For I can mention even another thing by way of going further. What is it? It is, that if it had been said of the earth, In the beginning was the earth, and of man, In the beginning was the man, we must not even then have imagined any greater things concerning them than what we have now determined. For the terms earth and man as they are presupposed, whatever мая be said concerning them, do not allow the mind to imagine to itself anything greater concerning them than what we know at present. Just as the Word, although but little be said of It, does not allow us to think (respecting It) anything low or poor. Since in proceeding he says of the earth, The earth was invisible and unformed. For having said that He made it, and having settled its proper limit, he afterwards declares fearlessly what follows, as knowing that there is no one so silly as to suppose that it is without beginning and uncreated, since the word earth, and that other made, are enough to convince even a very simple person that it is not eternal nor increate, but one of those things created in time.

3. Besides, the expression was, applied to the earth and to man, is not indicative of absolute existence. But in the case of a man (it denotes) his being of a certain place, in that of the earth its being in a certain way. For he has not said absolutely the earth was, and then held his peace, but has taught how it was even after its creation, as that it was invisible and unformed, as yet covered by the waters and in confusion. So in the case of Elkanah he does not merely say that there was a man, but adds also whence he was, of Armathaim Zophim. But in the case of the Word, it is not so. I am ashamed to try these cases, one against the other, for if we find fault with those who do so in the case of men, when there is a great difference in the virtue of those who are so tried, though in truth their substance be one; where the difference both of nature and of everything else is so infinite, is it not the extremest madness to raise such questions? But мая He who is blasphemed by them be merciful to us. For it was not we who invented the necessity of such discussions, but they who war against their own salvation laid it on us.

What then do I say? That this first was, applied to the Word, is only indicative of His eternal Being, (for In the beginning, he says, was the Word,) and that the second was, (and the Word was with God,) denotes His relative Being. For since to be eternal and without beginning is most peculiar to God, this he puts first; and then, lest any one hearing that He was in the beginning, should assert, that He was unbegotten also, he immediately remedies this by saying, before he declares what He was, that He was with God. And he has prevented any one from supposing, that this Word is simply such a one as is either uttered or conceived, by the addition, as I beforesaid, of the article, as well as by this second expression. For he does not say, was in God, but was with God: declaring to us His eternity as to person. Then, as he advances, he has more clearly revealed it, by adding, that this Word also was God.

But yet created, it мая be said. What then hindered him from saying, that In the beginning God made the Word? At least Moses speaking of the earth says, not that in the beginning was the earth, but that He made it, and then it was. What now hindered John from saying in like manner, that In the beginning God made the Word? For if Moses feared lest any one should assert that the earth was uncreated, much more ought John to have feared this respecting the Son, if He was indeed created. The world being visible, by this very circumstance proclaims its Maker, (the heavens, says the Psalmist, declare the glory of God Psalm 19:1), but the Son is invisible, and is greatly, infinitely, higher than all creation. If now, in the one instance, where we needed neither argument nor teaching to know that the world is created, yet the prophet sets down this fact clearly and before all others; much more should John have declared the same concerning the Son, if He had really been created.

Yes, it мая be said, but Peter has asserted this clearly and openly. Where and when? When speaking to the Jews he said, that 'God has made Him both Lord and Christ.' Acts 2:36 Why do you not add what follows, That same Jesus whom you have crucified? Or do you not know that of the words, part relate to His unmixed Nature, part to His Incarnation? But if this be not the case, and you will absolutely understand all as referring to the Godhead, then you will make the Godhead capable of suffering; but if not capable of suffering, then not created. For if blood had flowed from that divine and ineffable Nature, and if that Nature, and not the flesh, had been torn and cut by the nails upon the cross, on this supposition your quibbling would have had reason; but if not even the devil himself could utter such a blasphemy, why do you feign to be ignorant with ignorance so unpardonable, and such as not the evil spirits themselves could pretend? Besides the expressions Lord and Christ belong not to His Essence, but to His dignity; for the one refers to His Power, the other to his having been anointed. What then would you say concerning the Son of God? For if he were even, as you assert, created, this argument could not have place. For He was not first created and afterwards God chose Him, nor does He hold a kingdom which could be thrown aside, but one which belongs by nature to His Essence; since, when asked if He were a King, He answers, To this end was I born. John 18:37 But Peter speaks as concerning one chosen, because his argument wholly refers to the Dispensation.

4. And why do you wonder if Peter says this? For Paul, reasoning with the Athenians, calls Him Man only, saying, By that Man whom He has ordained, whereof He has given assurance to all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead. Acts 17:31 He speaks nothing concerning the form of God Philippians 2:6, nor that He was equal to Him, nor that He was the brightness of His glory. Hebrews 1:3 And with reason. The time for words like these was not yet come; but it would have contented him that they should in the meanwhile admit that He was Man, and that He rose again from the dead. Christ Himself acted in the same manner, from whom Paul having learned, used this reserve. For He did not at once reveal to us His Divinity, but was at first held to be a Prophet and a good man; but afterwards His real nature was shown by His works and words. On this account Peter too at first used this method, (for this was the first sermon that he made to the Jews;) and because they were not yet able clearly to understand anything respecting His Godhead, he dwelt on the arguments relating to His Incarnation; that their ears being exercised in these, might open a way to the rest of his teaching. And if any one will go through all the sermon from the beginning, he will find what I say very observable, for he (Peter) calls Him Man, and dwells on the accounts of His Passion, His Resurrection, and His generation according to the flesh. Paul too when he says, Who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh Romans 1:3, only teaches us that the word made is taken with a view to His Incarnation, as we allow. But the son of thunder is now speaking to us concerning His Ineffable and Eternal Existence, and therefore he leaves the word made and puts was; yet if He were created, this point he needs must most especially have determined. For if Paul feared that some foolish persons might suppose that He shall be greater than the Father, and have Him who begot Him made subject to Him, (for this is the reason why the Apostle in sending to the Corinthians writes, But when He says, All things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him, yet who could possibly imagine that the Father, even in common with all things, will be subject to the Son?) if, I say, he nevertheless feared these foolish imaginations, and says, He is excepted that did put all things under Him; much more if the Son of God were indeed created, ought John to have feared lest any one should suppose Him uncreated, and to have taught on this point before any other.

But now, since He was Begotten, with good reason neither John nor any other, whether apostle or prophet, has asserted that He was created. Neither had it been so would the Only-Begotten Himself have let it pass unmentioned. For He who spoke of Himself so humbly from condescension would certainly not have been silent on this matter. And I think it not unreasonable to suppose, that He would be more likely to have the higher Nature, and say nothing of it, than not having it to pass by this omission, and fail to make known that He had it not. For in the first case there was a good excuse for silence, namely, His desire to teach mankind humility by being silent as to the greatness of His attributes; but in the second case you can find no just excuse for silence. For why should He who declined many of His real attributes have been, if He were created, silent as to His having been made? He who, in order to teach humility, often uttered expressions of lowliness, such as did not properly belong to Him, much more if He had been indeed created, would not have failed to speak of this. Do you not see Him, in order that none мая imagine Him not to have been begotten, doing and saying everything to show that He was so, uttering words unworthy both of His dignity and His essence, and descending to the humble character of a Prophet? For the expression, As I hear, I judge John 5:30; and that other, He has told Me what I should say, and what I should speak John 12:49, and the like, belong merely to a prophet. If now, from His desire to remove this suspicion, He did not disdain to utter words thus lowly, much more if He were created would He have said many like words, that none might suppose Him to be uncreated; as, Think not that I am begotten of the Father; I am created, not begotten, nor do I share His essence. But as it is, He does the very contrary, and utters words which compel men, even against their will and desire, to admit the opposite opinion. As, I am in the Father, and the Father in Me John 14:11; and, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known Me, Philip? He that has seen Me, has seen the Father. John 14:9 And, That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. John 5:23 As the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will. John 5:21 My Father works hitherto, and I work. John 5:17 As the Father knows Me, even so know I the Father. John 10:15 I and My Father are One. John 10:30 And everywhere by putting the as, and the so, and the being with the Father, He declares His undeviating likeness to Him. His power in Himself He manifests by these, as well as by many other words; as when He says, Peace, be still. Mark 4:39 I will, be thou clean. Matthew 8:3 Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge you, come out of him. Mark 9:25 And again, You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not kill; but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger. Matthew 5:21–22 And all the other laws which He gave, and wonders which He worked, are sufficient to show His power, or rather, I should say, a very small part of them is enough to bring over and convince any, except the utterly insensate.

5. But vainglory is a thing powerful to blind even to very evident truths the minds of those ensnared by it, and to persuade them to dispute against what is allowed by others; nay, it instigates some who know and are persuaded of the truth to pretended ignorance and opposition. As took place in the case of the Jews, for they did not through ignorance deny the Son of God, but that they might obtain honor from the multitude; they believed, says the Evangelist, but were afraid, lest they should be put out of the synagogue. John 12:40 And so they gave up their salvation to others. For it cannot be that he who is so zealous a slave to the glory of this present world can obtain the glory which is from God. Wherefore He rebuked them, saying, How can you believe, which receive honor of men, and seek not the honor which comes from God? John 5:44 This passion is a sort of deep intoxication, and makes him who is subdued by it hard to recover. And having detached the souls of its captives from heavenly things, it nails them to earth, and lets them not look up to the true light, but persuades them ever to wallow in the mire, giving them masters so powerful, that they have the rule over them without needing to use commands. For the man who is sick of this disease, does of his own accord, and without bidding, all that he thinks will be agreeable to his masters. On their account he clothes himself in rich apparel, and beautifies his face, taking these pains not for himself but for others; and he leads about a train of followers through the market-place, that others мая admire him, and all that he does he goes through, merely out of obsequiousness to the rest of the world. Can any state of mind be more wretched than this? That others мая admire him, he is ever being precipitated to ruin.

Would you learn what a tyrannous sway it exercises? Why surely, the words of Christ are sufficient to show it all. But yet listen to these further remarks. If you will ask any of those men who mingle in state affairs and incur great expenses, why they lavish so much gold, and what their so vast expenditure means; you will hear from them, that it is for nothing else but to gratify the people. If again you ask what the people мая be; they will say, that it is a thing full of confusion and turbulent, made up for the most part of folly, tossed blindly to and fro like the waves of the sea, and often composed of varying and adverse opinions. Must not the man who has such a master be more pitiable than any one? And yet strange though it be, it is not so strange that worldly men should be eager about these things; but that those who say that they have started away from the world should be sick of this same disease, or rather of one more grievous still, this is the strangest thing of all. For with the first the loss extends only to money, but in the last case the danger reaches to the soul. For when men alter a right faith for reputation's sake, and dishonor God that they мая be in high repute themselves, tell me, what excess of stupidity and madness must there not be in what they do? Other passions, even if they are very hurtful, at least bring some pleasure with them, though it be but for a time and fleeting; those who love money, or wine, or women, have, with their hurt, a pleasure, though a brief one. But those who are taken captives by this passion, live a life continually embittered and stripped of enjoyment, for they do not obtain what they earnestly desire, glory, I mean, from the many. They think they enjoy it, but do not really, because the thing they aim at is not glory at all. And therefore their state of mind is not called glory, but a something void of glory, vaingloriousness, so have all the ancients named it, and with good reason; inasmuch as it is quite empty, and contains nothing bright or glorious within it, but as players' masks seem to be bright and lovely, but are hollow within, (for which cause, though they be more beautiful than natural faces, yet they never draw any to love them,) even so, or rather yet more wretchedly, has the applause of the multitude tricked out for us this passion, dangerous as an antagonist, and cruel as a master. Its countenance alone is bright, but within it is no more like the mask's mere emptiness, but crammed with dishonor, and full of savage tyranny. Whence then, it мая be asked, has this passion, so unreasonable, so devoid of pleasure, its birth? Whence else but from a low, mean soul? It cannot be that one who is captivated by love of applause should imagine readily anything great or noble; he needs must be base, mean, dishonorable, little. He who does nothing for virtue's sake, but to please men worthy of no consideration, and who ever makes account of their mistaken and erring opinions, how can he be worth anything? Consider; if any one should ask him, What do you think of the many? He clearly would say, that they are thoughtless, and not to be regarded. Then if any one again should ask him, Would you choose to be like them? I do not suppose he could possibly desire to be like them. Must it not then be excessively ridiculous to seek the good opinion of those whom you never would choose to resemble?

6. Do you say that they are many and a sort of collective body? This is the very reason why you ought most to despise them. If when taken singly they are contemptible, still more will this be the case when they are many; for when they are assembled together, their individual folly is increased by numbers, and becomes greater. So that a man might possibly take a single one of them and set him right, but could not do so with them when together, because then their folly becomes intense, and they are led like sheep, and follow in every direction the opinions of one another. Tell me, will you seek to obtain this vulgar glory? Do not, I beg and entreat you. It turns everything upside down; it is the mother of avarice, of slander, of false witness, of treacheries; it arms and exasperates those who have received no injury against those who have inflicted none. He who has fallen into this disease neither knows friendship nor remembers old companionship, and knows not how to respect any one at all; he has cast away from his soul all goodness, and is at war with every one, unstable, without natural affection.

Again, the passion of anger, tyrannical though it be and hard to bear, still is not wont always to disturb, but only when it has persons that excite it; but that of vainglory is ever active, and there is no time, as one мая say, when it can cease, since reason neither hinders nor restrains it, but it is always with us not only persuading us to sin, but snatching from our hands anything which we мая chance to do aright, or sometimes not allowing us to do right at all. If Paul calls covetousness idolatry, what ought we to name that which is mother, and root, and source of it, I mean, vainglory? We cannot possibly find any term such as its wickedness deserves. Beloved, let us now return to our senses; let us put off this filthy garment, let us rend and cut it off from us, let us at some time or other become free with true freedom, and be sensible of the nobility which has been given to us by God; let us despise vulgar applause. For nothing is so ridiculous and disgraceful as this passion, nothing so full of shame and dishonor. One мая in many ways see, that to love honor, is dishonor; and that true honor consists in neglecting honor, in making no account of it, but in saying and doing everything according to what seems good to God. In this way we shall be able to receive a reward from Him who sees exactly all our doings, if we are content to have Him only for a spectator. What need we other eyes, when He who shall confer the prize is ever beholding our actions? Is it not a strange thing that, whatever a servant does, he should do to please his master, should seek nothing more than his master's observation, desire not to attract other eyes (though they be great men who are looking on) to his conduct, but aim at one thing only, that his master мая observe him; while we who have a Lord so great, seek other spectators who can nothing profit, but rather hurt us by their observation, and make all our labor vain? Not so, I beseech you. Let us call Him to applaud and view our actions from whom we shall receive our rewards. Let us have nothing to do with human eyes. For if we should even desire to attain this honor, we shall then attain to it, when we seek that which comes from God alone. For, He says, Them that honor Me, I will honor. 1 Samuel 2:30 And even as we are best supplied with riches when we despise them, and seek only the wealth which comes from God (Seek, he says, the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you Matthew 6:33); so it is in the case of honor. When the granting either of riches or honor is no longer attended with danger to us, then God gives them freely; and it is then unattended with danger, when they have not the rule or power over us, do not command us as slaves, but belong to us as masters and free men. For the reason that He wishes us not to love them is, that we мая not be ruled by them; and if we succeed in this respect, He gives us them with great liberality. Tell me, what is brighter than Paul, when he says, We seek not honor of men, neither of you, nor yet of others. 1 Thessalonians 2:6 What then is richer than him who has nothing, and yet possesses all things? For as I said, when we are not mastered by them, then we shall master them, then we shall receive them. If then we desire to obtain honor, let us shun honor, so shall we be enabled after accomplishing the laws of God to obtain both the good things which are here, and those which are promised, by the grace of Christ, with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 4 on the Gospel of John

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.

1. When children are just brought to their learning, their teachers do not give them many tasks in succession, nor do they set them once for all, but they often repeat to them the same short ones, so that what is said мая be easily implanted in their minds, and they мая not be vexed at the first onset with the quantity, and with finding it hard to remember, and become less active in picking up what is given them, a kind of sluggishness arising from the difficulty. And I, who wish to effect the same with you, and to render your labor easy, take little by little the food which lies on this Divine table, and instill it into your souls. On this account I shall handle again the same words, not so as to say again the same things, but to set before you only what yet remains. Come, then, let us again apply our discourse to the introduction.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. Why, when all the other Evangelists had begun with the Dispensation ; (for Matthew says, The Book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David; and Luke too relates to us in the beginning of his Gospel the events relating to Mary; and in like manner Mark dwells on the same narratives, from that point detailing to us the history of the Baptist;) why, when they began with these matters, did John briefly and in a later place hint at them, saying, the Word was made flesh John 1:14; and, passing by everything else, His conception, His birth, His bringing up, His growth, at once discourse to us concerning His Eternal Generation?

I will now tell you what the reason of this is. Because the other Evangelists had dwelt most on the accounts of His coming in the flesh, there was fear lest some, being of grovelling minds, might for this reason rest in these doctrines alone, as indeed was the case with Paul of Samosata. In order, therefore, to lead away from this fondness for earth those who were like to fall into it, and to draw them up towards heaven, with good reason he commences his narrative from above, and from the eternal subsistence. For while Matthew enters upon his relation from Herod the king, Luke from Tiberius Cæsar, Mark from the Baptism of John, this Apostle, leaving alone all these things, ascends beyond all time or age. Thither darting forward the imagination of his hearers to the was in the beginning, not allowing it to stay at any point, nor setting any limit, as they did in Herod, and Tiberius, and John.

And what we мая mention besides as especially deserving our admiration is, that John, though he gave himself up to the higher doctrine, yet did not neglect the Dispensation; nor were the others, though intent upon the relation of this, silent as to the subsistence before the ages. With good cause; for One Spirit It was that moved the souls of all; and therefore they have shown great unanimity in their narrative. But you, beloved, when you have heard of The Word, do not endure those who say, that He is a work; nor those even who think, that He is simply a word. For many are the words of God which angels execute, but of those words none is God; they all are prophecies or commands, (for in Scripture it is usual to call the laws of God His commands, and prophecies, words; wherefore in speaking of the angels, he says, Mighty in strength, fulfilling His word) Psalm 103:20, but this Word is a Being with subsistence, proceeding without affection from the Father Himself. For this, as I before said, he has shown by the term Word. As therefore the expression, In the beginning was the Word, shows His Eternity, so was in the beginning with God, has declared to us His Co-eternity. For that you мая not, when you hear In the beginning was the Word, suppose Him to be Eternal, and yet imagine the life of the Father to differ from His by some interval and longer duration, and so assign a beginning to the Only-Begotten, he adds, was in the beginning with God; so eternally even as the Father Himself, for the Father was never without the Word, but He was always God with God, yet Each in His proper Person.

How then, one says, does John assert, that He was in the world, if He was with God? Because He was both with God and in the world also. For neither Father nor Son are limited in any way. Since, if there is no end of His greatness Psalm 145:3, and if of His wisdom there is no number Psalm 147:5, it is clear that there cannot be any beginning in time to His Essence. You have heard, that In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth Genesis 1:1; what do you understand from this beginning? Clearly, that they were created before all visible things. So, respecting the Only-Begotten, when you hear that He was in the beginning, conceive of him as before all intelligible things, and before the ages.

But if any one say, How can it be that He is a Son, and yet not younger than the Father? Since that which proceeds from something else needs must be later than that from which it proceeds; we will say that, properly speaking, these are human reasonings; that he who questions on this matter will question on others yet more improper; and that to such we ought not even to give ear. For our speech is now concerning God, not concerning the nature of men, which is subject to the sequence and necessary conclusions of these reasonings. Still, for the assurance of the weaker sort, we will speak even to these points.

2. Tell me, then, does the radiance of the sun proceed from the substance itself of the sun, or from some other source? Any one not deprived of his very senses needs must confess, that it proceeds from the substance itself. Yet, although the radiance proceeds from the sun itself, we cannot say that it is later in point of time than the substance of that body, since the sun has never appeared without its rays. Now if in the case of these visible and sensible bodies there has been shown to be something which proceeds from something else, and yet is not after that from whence it proceeds; why are you incredulous in the case of the invisible and ineffable Nature? This same thing there takes place, but in a manner suitable to That Substance. For it is for this reason that Paul too calls Him Brightness Hebrews 1:3; setting forth thereby His being from Him and His Co-eternity. Again, tell me, were not all the ages, and every interval created by Him? Any man not deprived of his senses must necessarily confess this. There is no interval therefore between the Son and the Father; and if there be none, then He is not after, but Co-eternal with Him. For before and after are notions implying time, since, without age or time, no man could possibly imagine these words; but God is above times and ages.

But if in any case you say that you have found a beginning to the Son, see whether by the same reason and argument you are not compelled to reduce the Father also to a beginning, earlier indeed, but still a beginning. For when you have assigned to the Son a limit and beginning of existence, do you not proceed upwards from that point, and say, that the Father was before it? Clearly you do. Tell me then, what is the extent of the Father's prior subsistence? For whether you say that the interval is little, or whether you say it is great, you equally have brought the Father to a beginning. For it is clear, that it is by measuring the space that you say whether it is little or great; yet it would not be possible to measure it, unless there were a beginning on either side; so that as far as you are concerned you have given the Father a beginning, and henceforth, according to your argument, not even the Father will be without beginning. See you that the word spoken by the Saviour is true, and the saying everywhere discovers its force? And what is that word? It is He that honors not the Son, honors not the Father. John 5:23

And I know indeed that what now has been said cannot by many be comprehended, and therefore it is that in many places we avoid agitating questions of human reasonings, because the rest of the people cannot follow such arguments, and if they could, still they have nothing firm or sure in them. For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices are but uncertain. Wisdom 9:14 Still I should like to ask our objectors, what means that which is said by the Prophet, Before Me there was no God formed, nor is there any after Me? Isaiah 43:10 For if the Son is younger than the Father, how, says He, Nor is there any after me? Will you take away the being of the Only-Begotten Himself? You either must dare this, or admit one Godhead with distinct Persons of the Father and Son.

Finally, how could the expression, All things were made by Him, be true? For if there is an age older than He, how can that which was before Him have been made by Him? Do you see to what daring the argument has carried them, when once the truth has been unsettled? Why did not the Evangelist say, that He was made from things that were not, as Paul declares of all things, when he says, Who calls those things which be not as though they were; but says, Was in the beginning? Romans 4:17 This is contrary to that; and with good reason. For God neither is made, nor has anything older; these are words of the Greeks. Tell me this too: Would you not say, that the Creator beyond all comparison excels His works? Yet since that which is from things that were not is similar to them, where is the superiority not admitting of comparison? And what mean the expressions, I am the first and I am the last Isaiah 44:6; and, before Me was no other God formed? Isaiah 43:10 For if the Son be not of the same Essence, there is another God; and if He be not Co-eternal, He is after Him; and if He did not proceed from His Essence, clear it is that He was made. But if they assert, that these things were said to distinguish Him from idols, why do they not allow that it is to distinguish Him from idols that he says, the Only True God? John 17:3 Besides, if this was said to distinguish Him from idols, how would you interpret the whole sentence? After Me, He says, is no other God. In saying this, He does not exclude the Son, but that After Me there is no idol God, not that there is no Son. Allowed, says he; what then? And the expression, Before Me was no other God formed, will you so understand, as that no idol God indeed was formed before Him, but yet a Son was formed before Him? What evil spirit would assert this? I do not suppose that even Satan himself would do so.

Moreover, if He be not Co-eternal with the Father, how can you say that His Life is infinite? For if it have a beginning from before, although it be endless, yet it is not infinite; for the infinite must be infinite in both directions. As Paul also declared, when he said, Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life Hebrews 7:3; by this expression showing that He is both without beginning and without end. For as the one has no limit, so neither has the other. In one direction there is no end, in the other no beginning.

3. And how again, since He is Life, was there ever when He was not? For all must allow, that Life both is always, and is without beginning and without end, if It be indeed Life, as indeed It is. For if there be when It is not, how can It be the life of others, when It even Itself is not?

How then, says one, does John lay down a beginning by saying, 'In the beginning was'? Tell me, have you attended to the In the beginning, and to the was, and do you not understand the expression, the Word was? What! When the Prophet says, From everlasting and to everlasting You are Psalm 90:2, does he say this to assign Him limits? No, but to declare His Eternity. Consider now that the case is the same in this place. He did not use the expression as assigning limits, since he did not say, had a beginning, but was in the beginning; by the word was carrying you forward to the idea that the Son is without beginning. Yet observe, says he, the Father is named with the addition of the article, but the Son without it. What then, when the Apostle says, The Great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ Titus 2:13; and again, Who is above all, God? Romans 9:5 It is true that here he has mentioned the Son, without the article; but he does the same with the Father also, at least in his Epistle to the Philippians Philippians 2:6, he says, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; and again to the Romans, Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:7 Besides, it was superfluous for it to be attached in that place, when close above it was continually attached to the Word. For as in speaking concerning the Father, he says, God is a Spirit John 4:24, and we do not, because the article is not joined to Spirit, yet deny the Spiritual Nature of God; so here, although the article is not annexed to the Son, the Son is not on that account a less God. Why so? Because in saying God, and again God, he does not reveal to us any difference in this Godhead, but the contrary; for having before said, and the Word was God; that no one might suppose the Godhead of the Son to be inferior, he immediately adds the characteristics of genuine Godhead, including Eternity, (for He was, says he, in the beginning with God,) and attributing to Him the office of Creator. For by Him were all things made, and without Him was not anything made that was made; which His Father also everywhere by the Prophets declares to be especially characteristic of His own Essence. And the Prophets are continually busy on this kind of demonstration, not only of itself, but when they contend against the honor shown to idols; Let the gods perish, says one who have not made heaven and earth Jeremiah 10:11: and again, I have stretched out the heaven with My hand Isaiah 44:24; and it is as declaring it to be indicative of Divinity, that He everywhere puts it. And the Evangelist himself was not satisfied with these words, but calls Him Life too and Light. If now He was ever with the Father, if He Himself created all things, if He brought all things into existence, and keeps together all things, (for, this he meant by Life,) if He enlightens all things, who so senseless as to say, that the Evangelist desired to teach an inferiority of Divinity by those very expressions, by which, rather than by any others, it is possible to express its equality and not differing? Let us not then confound the creation with the Creator, lest we too hear it said of us, that they served the creature rather than the Creator Romans 1:25; for although it be asserted that this is said of the heavens, still in speaking of the heavens he positively says, that we must not serve the creature, for it is a heathenish thing.

4. Let us therefore not lay ourselves under this curse. For this the Son of God came, that He might rid us from this service; for this He took the form of a slave, that He might free us from this slavery; for this He was spit upon, for this He was buffeted, for this He endured the shameful death. Let us not, I entreat you, make all these things of none effect, let us not go back to our former unrighteousness, or rather to unrighteousness much more grievous; for to serve the creature is not the same thing as to bring down the Creator, as far at least as in us lies, to the meanness of the creature. For He continues being such as He is; as says the Psalmist, You are the same, and Your years shall not fail. Psalm 102:27 Let us then glorify Him as we have received from our fathers, let us glorify Him both by our faith and by our works; for sound doctrines avail us nothing to salvation, if our life is corrupt. Let us then order it according to what is well-pleasing to God, setting ourselves far from all filthiness, unrighteousness, and covetousness, as strangers and foreigners and aliens to the things here on earth. If any have much wealth and possessions, let him so use them as one who is a sojourner, and who, whether he will or not, shall shortly pass from them. If one be injured by another, let him not be angry forever, nay rather not even for a time. For the Apostle has not allowed us more than a single day for the venting of anger.

Let not, says he, the sun go down upon your wrath Ephesians 4:26; and with reason; for it is matter for contentment that even in so short a time nothing unpleasant take place; but if night also overtake us, what has happened becomes more grievous, because the fire of our wrath is increased ten thousand times by memory, and we at our leisure enquire into it more bitterly. Before therefore we obtain this pernicious leisure and kindle a hotter fire, he bids us arrest beforehand and quench the mischief. For the passion of wrath is fierce, fiercer than any flame; and so we need much haste to prevent the flame, and not allow it to blaze up high, for so this disease becomes a cause of many evils. It has overturned whole houses, it has dissolved old companionships, and has worked tragedies not to be remedied in a short moment of time. For, says one, the sway of his fury shall be his destruction. Sirach 1:22 Let us not then leave such a wild beast unbridled, but put upon him a muzzle in all ways strong, the fear of the judgment to come. Whenever a friend grieves you, or one of your own family exasperates you, think of the sins you have committed against God, and that by kindness towards him you make that judgment more lenient to yourself, (Forgive, says He, and you shall be forgiven) Luke 6:37, and your passion shall quickly skulk away.

And besides, consider this, whether there has been a time when thou were being carried away into ferocity, and controlled yourself, and another time when you have been dragged along by the passion. Compare the two seasons, and you shall gain thence great improvement. For tell me, when did you praise yourself? Was it when you were worsted, or when you had the mastery? Do we not in the first case vehemently blame ourselves, and feel ashamed. even when none reproves us, and do not many feelings of repentance come over us, both for what we have said and done; but when we gain the mastery, then are we not proud, and exult as conquerors? For victory in the case of anger is, not the requiting evil with the like, (that is utter defeat,) but the bearing meekly to be ill treated and ill spoken of. To get the better is not to inflict but to suffer evil. Therefore when angry do not say, certainly I will retaliate, certainly I will be revenged; do not persist in saying to those who exhort you to gain a victory, I will not endure that the man mock me, and escape clear. He will never mock you, except when you avenge yourself; or if he even should mock you he will do so as a fool. Seek not when you conquer honor from fools, but consider that sufficient which comes from men of understanding. Nay, why do I set before you a small and mean body of spectators, when I make it up of men? Look up straight to God: He will praise you, and the man who is approved by Him must not seek honor from mortals. Mortal honor often arises from flattery or hatred of others, and brings no profit; but the decision of God is free from this inequality, and brings great advantage to the man whom He approves. This praise then let us follow after.

Will you learn what an evil is anger? Stand by while others are quarreling in the forum. In yourself you cannot easily see the disgrace of the thing, because your reason is darkened and drunken; but when you are clear from the passion, and while your judgment is sound, view your own case in others. Observe, I pray you, the crowds collecting round, and the angry men like maniacs acting shamefully in the midst. For when the passion boils up within the breast, and becomes excited and savage, the mouth breathes fire, the eyes emit fire, all the face becomes swollen, the hands are extended disorderly, the feet dance ridiculously, and they spring at those who restrain them, and differ nothing from madmen in their insensibility to all these things; nay, differ not from wild asses, kicking and biting. Truly a passionate man is not a graceful one.

And then, when after this exceedingly ridiculous conduct, they return home and come to themselves, they have the greater pain, and much fear, thinking who were present when they were angry. For like raving men, they did not then know the standers by, but when they have returned to their right mind, then they consider, were they friends? Were they foes and enemies that looked on? And they fear alike about both; the first because they will condemn them and give them more shame; the others because they will rejoice at it. And if they have even exchanged blows, then their fear is the more pressing; for instance, lest anything very grievous happen to the sufferer; a fever follow and bring on death, or a troublesome swelling rise and place him in danger of the worst. And, what need (say they) had I of fighting, and violence, and quarreling? Perish such things. And then they curse the ill-fated business which caused them to begin, and the more foolish lay on wicked spirits, and an evil hour, the blame of what has been done; but these things are not from an evil hour, (for there is no such thing as an evil hour,) nor from a wicked spirit, but from the wickedness of those captured by the passion; they draw the spirits to them, and bring upon themselves all things terrible. But the heart swells, says one, and is stung by insults. I know it; and that is the reason why I admire those who master this dreadful wild beast; yet it is possible if we will, to beat off the passion. For why when our rulers insult us do we not feel it? It is because fear counterbalances the passion, and frightens us from it, and does not allow it to spring up at all. And why too do our servants, though insulted by us in ten thousand ways, bear all in silence? Because they too have the same restraint laid upon them. And think thou not merely of the fear of God, but that it is even God Himself who then insults you, who bids you be silent, and then you will bear all things meekly, and say to the aggressor, How can I be angry with you? There is another that restrains both my hand and my tongue; and the saying will be a suggestion of sound wisdom, both to yourself and to him. Even now we bear unbearable things on account of men, and often say to those who have insulted us, Such an one insulted me, not you. Shall we not use the same caution in the case of God? How else can we hope for pardon? Let us say to our soul, It is God who holds our hands, who now insults us; let us not be restive, let not God be less honored by us than men. Did you shudder at the word? I wish you would shudder not at the word only, but at the deed. For God has commanded us when buffeted not only to endure it, but even to offer ourselves to suffer something worse; and we withstand Him with such vehemence, that we not only refuse to offer ourselves to suffer evil, but even avenge ourselves, nay often are the first to act on the offensive, and think we are disgraced if we do not the same in return. Yes, and the mischief is, that when utterly worsted we think ourselves conquerors, and when lying undermost and receiving ten thousand blows from the devil, then we imagine that we are mastering him. Let us then, I exhort you, understand what is the nature of this victory, and this kind of nature let us follow after. To suffer evil is to get the crown. If then we wish to be proclaimed victors by God, let us not in these contests observe the laws of heathen games, but those of God, and learn to bear all things with longsuffering; for so we мая get the better of our antagonists, and obtain both present and promised goods, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 5 on the Gospel of John

John 1:3

All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.

1. Moses in the beginning of the history and writings of the Old Testament speaks to us of the objects of sense, and enumerates them to us at length. For, In the beginning, he says, God made the heaven and the earth, and then he adds, that light was created, and a second heaven and the stars, the various kinds of living creatures, and, that we мая not delay by going through particulars, everything else. But this Evangelist, cutting all short, includes both these things and the things which are above these in a single sentence; with reason, because they were known to his hearers, and because he is hastening to a greater subject, and has instituted all his treatise, that he might speak not of the works but of the Creator, and Him who produced them all. And therefore Moses, though he has selected the smaller portion of the creation, (for he has spoken nothing to us concerning the invisible powers,) dwells on these things; while John, as hastening to ascend to the Creator Himself, runs by both these things, and those on which Moses was silent, having comprised them in one little saying, All things were made by Him. And that you мая not think that he merely speaks of all the things mentioned by Moses, he adds, that without Him was not anything made that was made. That is to say, that of created things, not one, whether it be visible or intelligible was brought into being without the power of the Son.

For we will not put the full stop after not anything, as the heretics do. They, because they wish to make the Spirit created, say, What was made, in Him was Life; yet so what is said becomes unintelligible. First, it was not the time here to make mention of the Spirit, and if he desired to do so, why did he state it so indistinctly? For how is it clear that this saying relates to the Spirit? Besides, we shall find by this argument, not that the Spirit, but that the Son Himself, is created by Himself. But rouse yourselves, that what is said мая not escape you; and come, let us read for a while after their fashion, for so its absurdity will be clearer to us. What was made, in Him was Life. They say that the Spirit is called Life. But this Life is found to be also Light, for he adds, And the Life was the Light of men. John 1:4 Therefore, according to them the Light of men here means the Spirit. Well, but when he goes on to say, that There was a man sent from God, to bear witness of that Light vers. 6, 7, they needs must assert, that this too is spoken of the Spirit; for whom he above called Word, Him as he proceeds he calls God, and Life, and Light. This Word he says was Life, and this Life was Light. If now this Word was Life, and if this Word and this Life became flesh, then the Life, that is to say, the Word, was made flesh, and we beheld Its glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father. If then they say that the Spirit is here called Life, consider what strange consequences will follow. It will be the Spirit, not the Son, that was made flesh; the Spirit will be the Only-Begotten Son.

And those who read the passage so will fall, if not into this, yet in avoiding this into another most strange conclusion. If they allow that the words are spoken of the Son, and yet do not stop or read as we do, then they will assert that the Son is created by Himself. Since, if the Word was Life, and what was made in Him was Life; according to this reading He is created in Himself and through Himself. Then after some words between, he has added, And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father. John 1:14 See, the Holy Spirit is found, according to the reading of those who assert these things, to be also an only-begotten Son, for it is concerning Him that all this declaration is uttered by him. See when the word has swerved from the truth, whither it is perverted, and what strange consequences it produces!

What then, says one, is not the Spirit Light? It is Light: but in this place there is no mention of the Spirit. Since even God (the Father) is called Spirit, that is to say, incorporeal, yet God (the Father) is not absolutely meant wherever Spirit is mentioned. And why do you wonder if we say this of the Father? We could not even say of the Comforter, that wherever Spirit (is mentioned), the Comforter is absolutely meant, and yet this is His most distinctive name; still not always where Spirit (is mentioned is) the Comforter (meant). Thus Christ is called the power of God 1Corinthians 1:24, and the wisdom of God; yet not always where the power and the wisdom of God are mentioned is Christ meant; so in this passage, although the Spirit does give Light, yet the Evangelist is not now speaking of the Spirit.

When we have shut them out from these strange opinions, they who take all manner of pains to withstand the truth, say, (still clinging to the same reading,) Whatever came into existence by him was life, because, says one, whatever came into existence was life. What then do you say of the punishment of the men of Sodom, and the flood, and hell fire, and ten thousand like things? But, says one, we are speaking of the material creation. Well, these too belong entirely to the material creation. But that we мая out of our abundance refute their argument, we will ask them, Is wood, life, tell me? Is stone, life? these things that are lifeless and motionless? Nay, is man absolutely life? Who would say so? He is not pure life, but is capable of receiving life.

2. See here again, an absurdity; by the same succession of consequences we will bring the argument to such a point, that even hence you мая learn their folly. In this way they assert things by no means befitting of the Spirit. Being driven from their other ground, they apply those things to men, which they before thought to be spoken worthily of the Spirit. However, let us examine the reading itself this way also. The creature is now called life, therefore, the same is light, and John came to witness concerning it. Why then is not he also light? He says that he was not that light John 1:8, and yet he belonged to created things? How then is he not light? How was he in the world, and the world was made by him? John 1:10 Was the creature in the creature, and was the creature made by the creature? But how did the world know him not? How did the creature not know the creature? But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. John 1:12 But enough of laughter. For the rest I leave it to you to attack these monstrous reasonings, that we мая not seem to have chosen to raise a laugh for its own sake, and waste the time without cause. For if these things are neither said of the Spirit, (and it has been shown that they are not,) nor of anything created, and yet they still hold to the same reading, that stranger conclusion than any which we before mentioned, will follow, that the Son was made by Himself. For if the Son is the true Light, and this Light was Life, and this Life was made in Him, this must needs be the result according to their own reading. Let us then relinquish this reading, and come to the recognized reading and explanation.

And what is that? It is to make the sentence end at was made, and to begin the next sentence with, In Him was Life. What (the Evangelist) says is this, Without Him was not anything made that was made; whatever created thing was made, says he, was not made without Him. See you how by this short addition he has rectified all the besetting difficulties; for the saying, that without Him was not anything made, and then the adding, which was made, includes things cognizable by the intellect, but excludes the Spirit. For after he had said that all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made, he needed this addition, lest some one should say, If all things were made by Him, then the Spirit also was made. I, he replies, asserted that whatever was made was made by Him, even though it be invisible, or incorporeal, or in the heavens. For this reason, I did not say absolutely, 'all things,' but 'whatever was made,' that is, 'created things,' but the Spirit is uncreated.

Do you see the precision of his teaching? He has alluded to the creation of material things, (for concerning these Moses had taught before him,) and after bringing us to advance from thence to higher things, I mean the immaterial and the invisible, he excepts the Holy Spirit from all creation. And so Paul, inspired by the same grace, said, For by Him were all things created. Colossians 1:16 Observe too here again the same exactness. For the same Spirit moved this soul also. That no one should except any created things from the works of God because of their being invisible, nor yet should confound the Comforter with them, after running through the objects of sense which are known to all, he enumerates also things in the heavens, saying, Whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; for the expression whether subjoined to each, shows to us nothing else but this, that by Him all things were made, and without Him was not anything made that was made.

But if you think that the expression by is a mark of inferiority, (as making Christ an instrument,) hear him say, You, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Psalm 102:25 He says of the Son what is said of the Father in His character of Creator; which he would not have said, unless he had deemed of Him as of a Creator, and yet not subservient to any. And if the expression by Him is here used, it is put for no other reason but to prevent any one from supposing the Son to be Unbegotten. For that in respect of the title of Creator He is nothing inferior to the Father; hear from Himself, where He says, As the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will. John 5:21 If now in the Old Testament it is said of the Son, You, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, His title of Creator is plain. But if you say that the Prophet spoke this of the Father, and that Paul attributed to the Son what was said of the Father, even so the conclusion is the same. For Paul would not have decided that the same expression suited the Son, unless he had been very confident that between Father and Son there was an equality of honor; since it would have been an act of extremest rashness to refer what suited an incomparable Nature to a nature inferior to, and falling short of it. But the Son is not inferior to, nor falls short of, the Essence of the Father; and therefore Paul has not only dared to use these expressions concerning Him, but also others like them. For the expression from Whom, which you decide to belong properly to the Father alone, he uses also concerning the Son, when he says, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of God. Colossians 2:19

3. And he is not content with this only, he stops your mouths in another way also, by applying to the Father the expression by whom, which you say is a mark of inferiority. For he says, God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of His Son 1Corinthians 1:9: and again, By His will 1Corinthians 1:1, etc.; and in another place, For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things. Romans 11:26 Neither is the expression from whom, assigned to the Son only, but also to the Spirit; for the angel said to Joseph, Fear not to take unto you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 1:20 As also the Prophet does not deem it improper to apply to the Father the expression in whom, which belongs to the Spirit, when he says, In God we shall do valiantly. Psalm 60:12 And Paul, Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey, in the will of God, to come unto you. Romans 1:10 And again he uses it of Christ, saying, In Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11, 23, etc. In short, we мая often and continually find these expressions interchanged; now this would not have taken place, had not the same Essence been in every instance their subject. And that you мая not imagine that the words, All things were made by Him, are in this case used concerning His miracles, (for the other Evangelists have discoursed concerning these;) he farther goes on to say, He was in the world, and the world was made by Him; (but not the Spirit, for This is not of the number of created things, but of those above all creation.)

Let us now attend to what follows. John having spoken of the work of creation, that All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made, goes on to speak concerning His Providence, where he says, In Him was Life. That no one мая doubt how so many and so great things were made by Him, he adds, that In Him was Life. For as with the fountain which is the mother of the great deeps, however much you take away you nothing lessen the fountain; so with the energy of the Only-Begotten, however much you believe has been produced and made by it, it has become no whit the less. Or, to use a more familiar example, I will instance that of light, which the Apostle himself added immediately, saying, And the Life was the Light. As then light, however many myriads it мая enlighten, suffers no diminution of its own brightness; so also God, before commencing His work and after completing it, remains alike indefectible, nothing diminished, nor wearied by the greatness of the creation. Nay, if need were that ten thousand, or even an infinite number of such worlds be created, He remains the same, sufficient for them all not merely to produce, but also to control them after their creation. For the word Life here refers not merely to the act of creation, but also to the providence (engaged) about the permanence of the things created; it also lays down beforehand the doctrine of the resurrection, and is the beginning of these marvelous good tidings. Since when life has come to be with us, the power of death is dissolved; and when light has shone upon us, there is no longer darkness, but life ever abides within us, and death cannot overcome it. So that what is asserted of the Father might be asserted absolutely of Him (Christ) also, that In Him we live and move and have our being. Colossians 1:16–17 As Paul has shown when he says, By Him were all things created, and by Him all things consist; for which reason He has been called also Root and Foundation.

But when you hear that In Him was Life, do not imagine Him a compound Being, since farther on he says of the Father also, As the Father has Life in Himself, so has He given to the Son also to have Life John 5:26; now as you would not on account of this expression say that the Father is compounded, so neither can you say so of the Son. Thus in another place he says, that God is Light 1 John 1:5, and elsewhere (it is said), that He dwells in light unapproachable 1 Timothy 6:16; yet these expressions are used not that we мая suppose a compounded nature, but that little by little we мая be led up to the highest doctrines. For since one of the multitude could not easily have understood how His life was Life Impersonate, he first used that humbler expression, and afterwards leads them (thus) trained to the higher doctrine. For He who had said that He has given Him (the Son) to have life John 5:26; the Same says in another place, I am the Life John 14:6; and in another, I am the Light. John 8:12 And what, tell me, is the nature of this light? This kind (of light) is the object not of the senses, but of the intellect, enlightening the soul herself. And since Christ should hereafter say, that None can come unto Me except the Father draw him John 6:44; the Apostle has in this place anticipated an objection, and declared that it is He (the Son) who gives light John 1:9; that although you hear a saying like this concerning the Father, you мая not say that it belongs to the Father only, but also to the Son. For, All things, He says, which the Father has are Mine. John 16:15

First then, the Evangelist has instructed us respecting the creation, after that he tells us of the goods relating to the soul which He supplied to us by His coming; and these he has darkly described in one sentence, when he says, And the Life was the Light of men. John 1:4 He does not say, was the light of the Jews, but universally of men: nor did the Jews only, but the Greeks also, come to this knowledge, and this light was a common proffer made to all. Why did he not add 'Angels,' but said, 'of men?'? Because at present his discourse is of the nature of men, and to them he came bearing glad tidings of good things.

And the light shines in darkness. John 1:5 He calls death and error, darkness. For the light which is the object of our senses does not shine in darkness, but apart from it; but the preaching of Christ has shone forth in the midst of prevailing error, and made it to disappear. And He by enduring death has so overcome death, that He has recovered those already held by it. Since then neither death overcame it, nor error, since it is bright everywhere, and shines by its proper strength, therefore he says,

And the darkness comprehended it not. For it cannot be overcome, and will not dwell in souls which wish not to be enlightened.

4. But let it not trouble you that It took not all, for not by necessity and force, but by will and consent does God bring us to Himself. Therefore do not thou shut your doors against this light, and you shall enjoy great happiness. But this light comes by faith, and when it has come, it lights abundantly him that has received it; and if you display a pure life (meet) for it, remains indwelling within continually. For, He says, He that loves Me, will keep My commandments; and I and My Father will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. John 14:23; slightly varied As then one cannot rightly enjoy the sunlight, unless he opens his eyes; so neither can one largely share this splendor, unless he have expanded the eye of the soul, and rendered it in every way keen of sight.

But how is this effected? Then when we have cleansed the soul from all the passions. For sin is darkness, and a deep darkness; as is clear, because men do it unconsciously and secretly. For, every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light. John 3:20 And, It is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. Ephesians 5:12 For, as in darkness a man knows neither friend nor foe, but cannot perceive any of the properties of objects; so too is it in sin. For he who desires to get more gain, makes no difference between friend and enemy; and the envious regards with hostile eyes the man with whom he is very intimate; and the plotter is at mortal quarrel with all alike. In short, as to distinguishing the nature of objects, he who commits sin is no better than men who are drunk or mad. And as in the night, wood, lead, iron, silver, gold, precious stones, seem to us all alike on account of the absence of the light which shows their distinctions; so he who leads an impure life knows neither the excellence of temperance nor the beauty of philosophy. For in darkness, as I said before, even precious stones if they be displayed do not show their luster, not by reason of their own nature, but because of the want of discernment in the beholders. Nor is this the only evil which happens to us who are in sin, but this also, that we live in constant fear: and as men walking in a moonless night tremble, though none be by to frighten them; so those who work iniquity cannot have confidence, though there be none to accuse them; but they are afraid of everything, and are suspicious, being pricked by their conscience: all to them is full of fear and distress, they look about them at everything, are terrified at everything. Let us then flee a life so painful, especially since after this painfulness shall follow death; a deathless death, for of the punishment in that place there will be no end; and in this life they (who sin) are no better than madmen, in that they are dreaming of things that have no existence. They think they are rich when they are not rich, that they enjoy when they are not enjoying, nor do they properly perceive the cheat until they are freed from the madness and have shaken off the sleep. Wherefore Paul exhorts all to be sober, and to watch; and Christ also commands the same. For he who is sober and awake, although he be captured by sin, quickly beats it off; while he who sleeps and is beside himself, perceives not how he is held prisoner of it.

Let us then not sleep. This is not the season of night, but of day. Let us therefore walk honestly as in the day Romans 13:13; and nothing is more indecent than sin . In point of indecency it is not so bad to go about naked as in sin and wrong doing. That is not so great matter of blame, since it might even be caused by poverty; but nothing has more shame and less honor than the sinner. Let us think of those who come to the justice-hall on some account of extortion, or overreaching; how base and ridiculous they appear to all by their utter shamelessness, their lies, and audacity. But we are such pitiable and wretched beings, that we cannot bear ourselves to put on a garment awkwardly or awry; nay, if we see another person in this state, we set him right; and yet though we and all our neighbors are walking on our heads, we do not even perceive it. For what, say, can be more shameful than a man who goes in to a harlot? What more contemptible than an insolent, a foul-tongued or an envious man? Whence then is it that these things do not seem so disgraceful as to walk naked? Merely from habit. To go naked no one has ever willingly endured; but all men are continually venturing on the others without any fear. Yet if one came into an assembly of angels, among whom nothing of the sort has ever taken place, there he would clearly see the great ridicule (of such conduct). And why do I say an assembly of angels? Even in the very palaces among us, should one introduce a harlot and enjoy her, or be oppressed by excess of wine, or commit any other like indecency, he would suffer extreme punishment. But if it be intolerable that men should dare such things in palaces, much more when the King is everywhere present, and observes what is done, shall we if we dare them undergo severest chastisement. Wherefore let us, I exhort you, show forth in our life much gentleness, much purity, for we have a King who beholds all our actions continually. In order then that this light мая ever richly enlighten us, let us gladly accept these bright beams, for so shall we enjoy both the good things present and those to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom, and with whom, to the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 6 on the Gospel of John

John 1:6

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

1. Having in the introduction spoken to us things of urgent importance concerning God the Word, (the Evangelist) proceeding on his road, and in order, afterwards comes to the herald of the Word, his namesake John. And now that you hear that he was sent from God, do not for the future imagine that any of the words spoken by him are mere man's words; for all that he utters is not his own, but is of Him who sent him. Wherefore he is called messenger Malachi 3:1, for the excellence of a messenger is, that he say nothing of his own. But the expression was, in this place is not significative of his coming into existence, but refers to his office of messenger; for 'there was' a man sent from God, is used instead of a man 'was sent' from God.

How then do some say, that the expression, being in the form of God Philippians 2:6 is not used of His invariable likeness to the Father, because no article is added? For observe, that the article is nowhere added here. Are these words then not spoken of the Father? What then shall we say to the prophet who says, that, Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who shall prepare Your way Malachi 3:1, as found in Mark 1:2? For the expressions My and Your declare two Persons.

John 1:7

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of that Light.

What is this, perhaps one мая say, the servant bear witness to his Master? When then you see Him not only witnessed to by His servant, but even coming to him, and with Jews baptized by him, will you not be still more astonished and perplexed? Yet you ought not to be troubled nor confused, but amazed at such unspeakable goodness. Though if any still continue bewildered and confused, He will say to such an one what He said to John, Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness Matthew 3:15; and, if any be still further troubled, again He will say to him too what he said to the Jews, But I receive not testimony from man. John 5:34 If now he needs not this witness, why was John sent from God? Not as though He required his testimony – this were extremest blasphemy. Why then? John himself informs us, when he says,

That all men through him might believe.

And Christ also, after having said that I receive not testimony from man John 5:34, in order that He мая not seem to the foolish to clash with Himself, by declaring at one time There is another that bears witness of Me and I know that his witness is true John 5:32 (for He pointed to John;) and at another, I receive not testimony from man John 5:34; He immediately adds the solution of the doubt, But these things I say for your own sake, that you might be saved. As though He had said, that I am God, and the really-Begotten Son of God, and am of that Simple and Blessed Essence, I need none to witness to Me; and even though none would do so, yet am not I by this anything diminished in My Essence; but because I care for the salvation of the many, I have descended to such humility as to commit the witness of Me to a man. For by reason of the groveling nature and infirmity of the Jews, the faith in Him would in this way be more easily received, and more palatable. As then He clothed Himself with flesh, that he might not, by encountering men with the unveiled Godhead, destroy them all; so He sent forth a man for His herald, that those who heard might at the hearing of a kindred voice approach more readily. For (to prove) that He had no need of that (herald's) testimony, it would have sufficed that He should only have shown Himself who He was in His unveiled Essence, and have confounded them all. But this He did not for the reason I have before mentioned. He would have annihilated all, since none could have endured the encounter of that unapproachable light. Wherefore, as I said, He put on flesh, and entrusted the witness (of Himself) to one of our fellow-servants, since He arranged all for the salvation of men, looking not only to His own honor, but also to what might be readily received by, and be profitable to, His hearers. Which He glanced at when He said, These things I say for your sake, that you might be saved. John 5:34 And the Evangelist using the same language as his Master, after saying, to bear witness of that Light, adds,

That all men through Him might believe. All but saying, Think not that the reason why John the Baptist came to bear witness, was that he might add anything to the trustworthiness of his Master. No; (He came,) that by his means beings of his own class might believe. For it is clear from what follows, that he used this expression in his anxiety to remove this suspicion beforehand, since he adds,

John 1:8

He was not that Light.

Now if he did not introduce this as setting himself against this suspicion, then the expression is absolutely superfluous, and tautology rather than elucidation of his teaching. For why, after having said that he was sent to bear witness of that Light, does he again say, He was not that Light? (He says it,) not loosely or without reason; but, because, for the most part, among ourselves, the person witnessing is held to be greater, and generally more trustworthy than the person witnessed of; therefore, that none might suspect this in the case of John, at once from the very beginning he removes this evil suspicion, and having torn it up by the roots, shows who this is that bears witness, and who is He who is witnessed of, and what an interval there is between the witnessed of, and the bearer of witness. And after having done this, and shown His incomparable superiority, he afterwards proceeds fearlessly to the narrative which remains; and after carefully removing whatever strange (ideas) might secretly harbor in the minds of the simpler sort, so instills into all easily and without impediment the word of doctrine in its proper order.

Let us pray then, that henceforth with the revelation of these thoughts and rightness of doctrine, we мая have also a pure life and bright conversation, since these things profit nothing unless good works be present with us. For though we have all faith and all knowledge of the Scriptures, yet if we be naked and destitute of the protection derived from (holy) living, there is nothing to hinder us from being hurried into the fire of hell, and burning for ever in the unquenchable flame. For as they who have done good shall rise to life everlasting, so they who have dared the contrary shall rise to everlasting punishment, which never has an end. Let us then manifest all eagerness not to mar the gain which accrues to us from a right faith by the vileness of our actions, but becoming well-pleasing to Him by these also, boldly to look on Christ. No happiness can be equal to this. And мая it come to pass, that we all having obtained what has been mentioned, мая do all to the glory of God; to whom, with the Only-Begotten Son and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 7 on the Gospel of John

John 1:9

That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.

1. The reason, O children greatly beloved, why we entertain you portion by portion with the thoughts taken from the Scriptures, and do not at once pour all forth to you, is, that the retaining what is successively set before you мая be easy. For even in building, one who before the first stones are settled lays on others, constructs a rotten wall altogether, and easily thrown down: while one who waits that the mortar мая first get hard, and so adds what remains little by little, finishes the whole house firmly, and makes it strong, not one to last for a short time, or easily to fall to pieces. These builders we imitate, and in like manner build up your souls. For we fear lest, while the first foundation is but newly laid, the addition of the succeeding speculations мая do harm to the former, through the insufficiency of the intellect to contain them all at once.

What now is it that has been read to us today?

That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world. For since above in speaking of John he said, that he came to bear witness of that Light; and that he was sent in these our days; lest any one at hearing this should, on account of the recent coming of the witness, conceive some like suspicion concerning Him, who is witnessed of, he has carried up the imagination, and transported it to that existence which is before all beginning, which has neither end nor commencement.

And how is it possible, says one, that being a Son, He should possess this (nature)? We are speaking of God, and do you ask how? And do you not fear nor shudder? Yet should any one ask you, How should our souls and bodies have endless life in the world to come? you will laugh at the question, on the ground that it does not belong to the intellect of man to search into such questions, but that he ought only to believe, and not to be over-curious on the subject mentioned, since he has a sufficient proof of the saying, in the power of Him who spoke it. And if we say, that He, who created our souls and bodies, and who incomparably excels all created things, is without beginning, will you require us to say How? Who could assert this to be the act of a well-ordered soul, or of sound reason? You have heard that That was the true Light: why are you vainly and rashly striving to overshoot by force of reasoning this Life which is unlimited? You cannot do it. Why seek what мая not be sought? Why be curious about what is incomprehensible? Why search what is unsearchable? Gaze upon the very source of the sunbeams. You cannot; yet you are neither vexed nor impatient at your weakness; how then have you become so daring and headlong in greater matters? The son of thunder, John who sounds the spiritual trumpet, when he had heard from the Spirit the was, enquired no farther. And are you, who share not in his grace, but speak from your own wretched reasonings, ambitious to exceed the measure of his knowledge? Then for this very reason you will never be able even to reach to the measure of his knowledge. For this is the craft of the devil: he leads away those who obey him from the limits assigned by God, as though to things much greater: but when, having enticed us by these hopes, he has cast us out of the grace of God, he not only gives nothing more, (how can he, devil as he is?) but does not even allow us to return again to our former situation, where we dwelt safely and surely, but leads us about in all directions wandering and not having any standing ground. So he caused the first created man to be banished from the abode of Paradise. Having puffed him up with the expectation of greater knowledge and honor, he expelled him from what he already possessed in security. For he not only did not become like a god as (the devil) promised him, but even fell beneath the dominion of death; having not only gained no further advantage by eating of the tree, but having lost no small portion of the knowledge which he possessed, through hope of greater knowledge. For the sense of shame, and the desire to hide himself because of his nakedness, then came upon him, who before the cheat was superior to all such shame; and this very seeing himself to be naked, and the need for the future of the covering of garments, and many other infirmities, became thenceforth natural to him. That this be not our case, let us obey God, continue in His commandments, and not be busy about anything beyond them, that we мая not be cast out from the good things already given us. Thus they have fared (of whom we speak). For seeking to find a beginning of the Life which has no beginning, they lost what they might have retained. They found not what they sought, (this is impossible,) and they fell away from the true faith concerning the Only-Begotten.

Let us not then remove the eternal bounds which our fathers set, but let us ever yield to the laws of the Spirit; and when we hear that That was the true Light, let us seek to discover nothing more. For it is not possible to pass beyond this saying. Had His generation been like that of a man, needs must there have been an interval between the begetter and the begotten; but since it is in a manner ineffable and becoming God, give up the before and the after, for these are the names of points in time, but the Son is the Creator even of all ages.

2. Then, says one, He is not Father, but brother. What need, pray? If we had asserted that the Father and the Son were from a different root, you might have then spoken this well. But, if we flee this impiety, and say the Father, besides being without beginning, is Unbegotten also, while the Son, though without beginning, is Begotten of the Father, what kind of need that as a consequence of this idea, that unholy assertion should be introduced? None at all. For He is an Effulgence: but an effulgence is included in the idea of the nature whose effulgence it is. For this reason Paul has called Him so, that you мая imagine no interval between the Father and the Son. Hebrews 1:3 This expression therefore is declaratory of the point; but the following part of the proof quoted, corrects an erroneous opinion which might beset simple men. For, says the Apostle, do not, because you have heard that he is an Effulgence, suppose that He is deprived of His proper person; this is impious, and belongs to the madness of the Sabellians, and of Marcellus' followers. We say not so, but that He is also in His proper Person. And for this reason, after having called Him Effulgence, Paul has added that He is the express image of His Person Hebrews 1:3, in order to make evident His proper Personality, and that He belongs to the same Essence of which He is also the express image. For, as I before said, it is not sufficient by a single expression to set before men the doctrines concerning God, but it is desirable that we bring many together, and choose from each what is suitable. So shall we be able to attain to a worthy telling of His glory, worthy, I mean, as regards our power; for if any should deem himself able to speak words suitable to His essential worthiness, and be ambitious to do so, saying, that he knows God as God knows Himself, he it is who is most ignorant of God.

Knowing therefore this, let us continue steadfastly to hold what they have delivered unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word. Luke 1:2 And let us not be curious beyond: for two evils will attend those who are sick of this disease, (curiosity,) the wearying themselves in vain by seeking what it is impossible to find, and the provoking God by their endeavors to overturn the bounds set by Him. Now what anger this excites, it needs not that you who know should learn from us. Abstaining therefore from their madness, let us tremble at His words, that He мая continually build us up. For, upon whom shall I look Isaiah 66:2, Septuagint, says He, but upon the lowly, and quiet, and who fears my words? Let us then leave this pernicious curiosity, and bruise our hearts, let us mourn for our sins as Christ commanded, let us be pricked at heart for our transgressions, let us reckon up exactly all the wicked deeds, which in time past we have dared, and let us earnestly strive to wipe them off in all kinds of ways.

Now to this end God has opened to us many ways. For, Tell you first, says He, your sins, that you мая be justified Isaiah 43:26 ; and again, I said, I have declared mine iniquity unto You, and You have taken away the unrighteousness of my heart Psalm 32:5, Septuagint; since a continual accusation and remembrance of sins contributes not a little to lessen their magnitude. But there is another more prevailing way than this; to bear malice against none of those who have offended against us, to forgive their trespasses to all those who have trespassed against us. Will you learn a third? Hear Daniel, saying, Redeem your sins by almsdeeds, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Daniel 4:27, Septuagint And there is another besides this; constancy in prayer, and persevering attendance on the intercessions made with God. In like manner fasting brings to us some, and that not small comfort and release from sins committed, provided it be attended with kindness to others, and quenches the vehemence of the wrath of God. 1 Timothy 2:1 For water will quench a blazing fire, and by almsdeeds sins are purged away. Sirach 3:30, Septuagint

Let us then travel along all these ways; for if we give ourselves wholly to these employments, if on them we spend our time, not only shall we wash off our bygone transgressions, but shall gain very great profit for the future. For we shall not allow the devil to assault us with leisure either for slothful living, or for pernicious curiosity, since by these among other means, and in consequence of these, he leads us to foolish questions and hurtful disputations, from seeing us at leisure, and idle, and taking no forethought for excellency of living. But let us block up this approach against him, let us watch, let us be sober, that having in this short time toiled a little, we мая obtain eternal goods in endless ages, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 8 on the Gospel of John

John 1:9

That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.

1. Nothing hinders us from handling today also the same words, since before we were prevented by the setting forth of doctrines, from considering all that was read. Where now are those who deny that He is true God? For here He is called the true Light John 14:6, and elsewhere very Truth and very Life. That saying we will discuss more clearly when we come to the place; but at present we must for a while be speaking to your Charity of that other matter.

If He lights every man that comes into the world, how is it that so many continue unenlightened? For not all have known the majesty of Christ. How then does He light every man? He lights all as far as in Him lies. But if some, wilfully closing the eyes of their mind, would not receive the rays of that Light, their darkness arises not from the nature of the Light, but from their own wickedness, who willfully deprive themselves of the gift. For the grace is shed forth upon all, turning itself back neither from Jew, nor Greek, nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor free, nor bond, nor male, nor female, nor old, nor young, but admitting all alike, and inviting with an equal regard. And those who are not willing to enjoy this gift, ought in justice to impute their blindness to themselves; for if when the gate is opened to all, and there is none to hinder, any being willfully evil remain without, they perish through none other, but only through their own wickedness.

John 1:10

He was in the world.

But not as of equal duration with the world. Away with the thought. Wherefore he adds, And the world was made by Him; thus leading you up again to the eternal existence of the Only-Begotten. For he who has heard that this universe is His work, though he be very dull, though he be a hater, though he be an enemy of the glory of God, will certainly, willing or unwilling, be forced to confess that the maker is before his works. Whence wonder always comes over me at the madness of Paul of Samosata, who dared to look in the face so manifest a truth, and voluntarily threw himself down the precipice. For he erred not ignorantly but with full knowledge, being in the same case as the Jews. For as they, looking to men, gave up sound faith, knowing that he was the only-begotten Son of God, but not confessing Him, because of their rulers, lest they should be cast out of the synagogue; so it is said that he, to gratify a certain woman, sold his own salvation. A powerful thing, powerful indeed, is the tyranny of vainglory; it is able to make blind the eyes even of the wise, except they be sober; for if the taking of gifts can effect this, much more will the yet more violent feeling of this passion. Wherefore Jesus said to the Jews, How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only? John 5:44

And the world knew Him not. By the world he here means the multitude, which is corrupt, and closely attached to earthly things, the common turbulent, silly people. For the friends and favorites of God all knew Him, even before His coming in the flesh. Concerning the Patriarch Christ Himself speaks by name, that your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad. John 8:56 And concerning David, confuting the Jews He said, How then does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, the Lord said to my Lord, Sit on My right hand. Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42 And in many places, disputing with them, He mentions Moses; and the Apostle (mentions) the rest of the prophets; for Peter declares, that all the prophets from Samuel knew Him, and proclaimed beforehand His coming afar off, when he says, All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Acts 3:24 But Jacob and his father, as well as his grandfather, He both appeared to and talked with, and promised that He would give them many and great blessings, which also He brought to pass.

How then, says one, did He say Himself, 'Many prophets have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them'? Luke 10:24 Did they then not share in the knowledge of Him? Surely they did; and I will endeavor to make this plain from this very saying, by which some think that they are deprived of it. For many, He says, have desired to see the things which you see. So that they knew that He would come [to men] from heaven, and would live and teach as He lived and taught; for had they not known, they could have not desired, since no one can conceive desire for things of which he has no idea; therefore they knew the Son of Man, and that He would come among men. What then are the things which they did not hear? What those which they did not know? The things which you now see and hear. For if they did hear His voice and did see Him, it was not in the Flesh, not among men; nor when He was living so familiarly, and conversing so frankly with them. And indeed He to show this said not simply, to see Me: but what? the things which you see; nor to hear Me: but what? the things which you hear. So that if they did not behold His coming in the Flesh, still they knew that it would be, and they desired it, and believed on Him without having seen Him in the Flesh.

When therefore the Greeks bring charges such as these against us, and say; What then did Christ in former time, that He did not look upon the race of men? And for what possible reason did He come at last to assist in our salvation, after neglecting us so long? we will reply, that before this He was in the world, and took thought for His works, and was known to all who were worthy. But if you should say, that, because all did not then know Him, because He was only known by those noble and excellent persons, therefore He was not acknowledged; at this rate you will not allow that He is worshipped even now, since even now all men do not know Him. But as at present no one, because of those who do not know Him, would refuse credit to those who do, so as regards former times, we must not doubt that He was known to many, or rather to all of those noble and admirable persons.

2. And if any one say, Why did not all men give heed to Him? Nor all worship Him, but the just only? I also will ask, why even now do not all men know him? But why do I speak of Christ, when not all men knew His Father then, or know Him now? For some say, that all things are borne along by chance, while others commit the providence of the universe to devils. Others invent another God besides Him, and some blasphemously assert, that His is an opposing power, and think that His laws are the laws of a wicked dæmon. What then? Shall we say that He is not God because there are some who say so? And shall we confess Him to be evil? For there are some who even so blaspheme Him. Away with such mental wandering, such utter insanity. If we should delineate doctrines according to the judgment of madmen, there is nothing to hinder us from being mad ourselves with most grievous madness. No one will assert, looking to those who have weak vision, that the sun is injurious to the eyes, but he will say that it is fitted to give light, drawing his judgments from persons in health. And no one will call honey bitter, because it seems so to the sense of the sick. And will any, from the imaginations of men diseased (in mind) decide that God either is not, or is evil; or that He sometimes indeed exerts His Providence, sometimes does not so at all? Who can say that such men are of sound mind, or deny that they are beside themselves, delirious, utterly mad?

The world, he says, knew Him not; but they of whom the world was not worthy knew Him. And having spoken of those who knew Him not, he in a short time puts the cause of their ignorance; for he does not absolutely say, that no one knew Him, but that the world knew him not; that is, those persons who are as it were nailed to the world alone, and who mind the things of the world. For so Christ was wont to call them; as when He says, O Holy Father, the world has not known You. Luke 17:25 The world then was ignorant, not only of Him, but also of His Father, as we have said; for nothing so darkens the mind as to be closely attached to present things.

Knowing therefore this, remove yourselves from the world, and tear yourselves as much as possible from carnal things, for the loss which comes to you from these lies not in common matters, but in what is the chief of goods. For it is not possible for the man who clings strongly to the things of the present life really to lay hold on those in heaven, but he who is earnest about the one must needs lose the other. You cannot, He says, serve God and Mammon Matthew 6:24, for you must hold to the one and hate the other. And this too the very experience of the things proclaims aloud. Those, for instance, who deride the lust of money, are especially the persons who love God as they ought, just as those who respect that sovereignty (of Mammon), are the men who above all others have the slackest love for Him. For the soul when made captive once for all by covetousness, will not easily or readily refuse doing or saying any of the things which anger God, as being the slave of another master, and one who gives all his commands in direct opposition to God. Return then at length to your sober senses, and rouse yourselves, and calling to mind whose servants we are, let us love His kingdom only; let us weep, let us wail for the times past in which we were servants of Mammon; let us cast off once for all his yoke so intolerable, so heavy, and continue to bear the light and easy yoke of Christ. For He lays no such commands upon us as Mammon does. Mammon bids us be enemies to all men, but Christ, on the contrary, to embrace and to love all. The one having nailed us to the clay and the brickmaking, (for gold is this,) allows us not even at night to take breath a little; the other releases us from this excessive and insensate care, and bids us gather treasures in heaven, not by injustice towards others, but by our own righteousness. The one after our many toils and sufferings is not able to assist us when we are punished in that place and suffer because of his laws, nay, he increases the flame; the other, though He command us to give but a cup of cold water, never allows us to lose our reward and recompense even for this, but repays us with great abundance. How then is it not extremest folly to slight a rule so mild, so full of all good things, and to serve a thankless, ungrateful tyrant, and one who neither in this world nor in the world to come is able to help those who obey and give heed to him. Nor is this the only dreadful thing, nor is this only the penalty, that he does not defend them when they are being punished; but that besides this, he, as I before said, surrounds those who obey him with ten thousand evils. For of those who are punished in that place, one мая see that the greater part are punished for this cause, that they were slaves to money, that they loved gold, and would not assist those who needed. That we be not in this case, let us scatter, let us give to the poor, let us deliver our souls from hurtful cares in this world, and from the vengeance, which because of these things is appointed for us in that place. Let us store up righteousness in the heavens. Instead of riches upon earth, let us collect treasures impregnable, treasures which can accompany us on our journey to heaven, which can assist us in our peril, and make the Judge propitious at that hour. Whom мая we all have gracious unto us, both now and at that day, and enjoy with much confidence the good things prepared in the heavens for those who love Him as they ought, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 9 on the Gospel of John

John 1:11

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.

1. If you remember our former reflections, we shall the more zealously proceed with the building up of what remains, as doing so for great gain. For so will our discourse be more intelligible to you who remember what has been already said, and we shall not need much labor, because you are able through your great love of learning to see more clearly into what remains. The man who is always losing what is given to him will always need a teacher, and will never know anything; but he who retains what he has received, and so receives in addition what remains, will quickly be a teacher instead of a learner, and useful not only to himself, but to all others also; as, conjecturing from their great readiness to hear, I anticipate that this assembly will specially be. Come then, let us lay up in your souls, as in a safe treasury, the Lord's money, and unfold, as far as the grace of the Spirit мая afford us power, the words this day set before us.

He (St. John) had said, speaking of the old times, that the world knew him not John 1:10; afterwards he comes down in his narrative to the times of the proclamation (of the Gospel), and says, He came to His own, and His own received Him not, now calling the Jews His own, as His peculiar people, or perhaps even all mankind, as created by Him. And as above, when perplexed at the folly of the many, and ashamed of our common nature, he said that the world by Him was made, and having been made, did not recognize its Maker; so here again, being troubled beyond bearing at the stupidity of the Jews and the many, he sets forth the charge in a yet more striking manner, saying, that His own received Him not, and that too when He came to them. And not only he, but the prophets also, wondering, said the very same, as did afterwards Paul, amazed at the very same things. Thus did the prophets cry aloud in the person of Christ, saying, A people whom I have not known, have served Me; as soon as they heard Me, they obeyed Me; the strange children have dealt falsely with Me. The strange children have waxed aged, and have halted from their paths. Psalm 18:43–45, Septuagint And again, They to whom it had not been told concerning Him, shall see, and they which had not heard, shall understand. And, I was found of them that sought Me not Isaiah 52:15; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. Isaiah 45:1, as quoted in Romans 10:20 And Paul, in his Epistles to the Romans, has said, What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for: but the election has obtained it. Romans 11:7 And again; What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained unto righteousness: but Israel which followed after the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Romans 9:30

For it is a thing indeed worthy of our amazement, how they who were nurtured in (knowledge of) the prophetical books, who heard Moses every day telling them ten thousand things concerning the coming of the Christ, and the other prophets afterwards, who moreover themselves beheld Christ Himself daily working miracles among them, giving up His time to them alone, neither as yet allowing His disciples to depart into the way of the Gentiles, or to enter into a city of Samaritans, nor doing so Himself, but everywhere declaring that He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel Matthew 10:5: how, (I say), while they saw the signs, and heard the Prophets, and had Christ Himself continually putting them in remembrance, they yet made themselves once for all so blind and dull, as by none of these things to be brought to faith in Christ. Matthew 15:24 While they of the Gentiles, who had enjoyed none of these things, who had never heard the oracles of God, not, as one мая say, so much as in a dream, but ever ranging among the fables of madmen, (for heathen philosophy is this,) having ever in their hands the sillinesses of their poets, nailed to stocks and stones, and neither in doctrines nor in conversation possessing anything good or sound. (For their way of life was more impure and more accursed than their doctrine. As was likely; for when they saw their gods delighting in all wickedness, worshipped by shameful words, and more shameful deeds, reckoning this festivity and praise, and moreover honored by foul murders, and child-slaughters, how should not they emulate these things?) Still, fallen as they were as low as the very depth of wickedness, on a sudden, as by the agency of some machine, they have appeared to us shining from on high, and from the very summit of heaven.

How then and whence came it to pass? Hear Paul telling you. For that blessed person searching exactly into these things, ceased not until he had found the cause, and had declared it to all others. What then is it? And whence came such blindness upon the Jews? Hear him who was entrusted with this stewardship declare. What then does he say in resolving this doubt of the many? 1Corinthians 9:17 For they, says he, being ignorant of God's righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Romans 10:3 Wherefore they have suffered this. And again, explaining the same matter in other terms, he says, What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained unto righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith; but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. Romans 9:30–32 His meaning is this: These men's unbelief has been the cause of their misfortunes, and their haughtiness was parent of their unbelief. For when having before enjoyed greater privileges than the heathen, through having received the law, through knowing God, and the rest which Paul enumerates, they after the coming of Christ saw the heathen and themselves called on equal terms through faith, and after faith received one of the circumcision in nothing preferred to the Gentile, they came to envy and were stung by their haughtiness, and could not endure the unspeakable and exceeding lovingkindness of the Lord. So this has happened to them from nothing else but pride, and wickedness, and unkindness.

2. For in what, O most foolish of men, are you injured by the care bestowed on others? How are your blessings made less through having others to share the same? But of a truth wickedness is blind, and cannot readily perceive anything that it ought. Being therefore stung by the prospect of having others to share the same confidence, they thrust a sword against themselves, and cast themselves out from the lovingkindness of God. And with good reason. For He says, Friend, I do you no wrong, I will give to 'these also' even as unto you. Matthew 20:14 Or rather, these Jews are not deserving even of these words. For the man in the parable if he was discontented, could yet speak of the labors and weariness, the heat and sweat, of a whole day. But what could these men have to tell? Nothing like this, but slothfulness and profligacy and ten thousand evil things of which all the prophets continued ever to accuse them, and by which they like the Gentiles had offended against God. And Paul declaring this says, For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: being justified freely by His grace. Romans 10:12; Romans 3:22–24 And on this head he treats profitably and very wisely throughout that Epistle. But in a former part of it he proves that they are worthy of still greater punishment. For as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law Romans 2:12; that is to say, more severely, as having for their accuser the law as well as nature. And not for this only, but for that they have been the cause that God is blasphemed among the Gentiles: My Name, He says, is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you. Romans 2:24; Isaiah 52:5

Since now this it was that stung them most, (for the thing appeared incredible even to those of the circumcision who believed, and therefore they brought it as a charge against Peter, when he had come up to them from Cesarea, that he went in to men uncircumcised, and did eat with them Acts 11:3; and after that they had learned the dispensation of God, even so still they wondered how on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost Acts 10:45: showing by their astonishment that they could never have expected so incredible a thing,) since then he knew that this touched them nearest, see how he has emptied their pride and relaxed their highly swelling insolence. For after having discoursed on the case of the heathen, and shown that they had not from any quarter any excuse, or hope of salvation, and after having definitely charged them both with the perversion of their doctrines and the uncleanness of their lives, he shifts his argument to the Jews; and after recounting all the expressions of the Prophet, in which he had said that they were polluted, treacherous, hypocritical persons, and had altogether become unprofitable, that there was none among them that seeks after God, that they had all gone out of the way Romans 3:12, and the like, he adds, Now we know that whatever things the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth мая be stopped, and all the world мая become guilty before God. Romans 3:19 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Why then exaltest you yourself, O Jew? Why are you high minded? For your mouth also is stopped, your boldness also is taken away, you also with all the world have become guilty, and, like others, are placed in need of being justified freely. You ought surely even if you had stood upright and had had great boldness with God, not even so to have envied those who should be pitied and saved through His lovingkindness. This is the extreme of wickedness, to pine at the blessings of others; especially when this was to be effected without any loss of yours. If indeed the salvation of others had been prejudicial to your advantages, your grieving might have been reasonable; though not even then would it have been so to one who had learned true wisdom. But if your reward is not increased by the punishment of another, nor diminished by his welfare, why do you bewail yourself because that other is freely saved? As I said, you ought not, even were thou (one) of the approved, to be pained at the salvation which comes to the Gentiles through grace. But when you, who are guilty before your Lord of the same things as they, and have yourself offended, are displeased at the good of others, and think great things, as if you alone ought to be partaker of the grace, you are guilty not only of envy and insolence, but of extreme folly, and мая be liable to all the severest torments; for you have planted within yourself the root of all evils, pride.

Wherefore a wise man has said, Pride is the beginning of sin Sirach 10:13: that is, its root, its source, its mother. By this the first created was banished from that happy abode: by this the devil who deceived him had fallen from that height of dignity; from which that accursed one, knowing that the nature of the sin was sufficient to cast down even from heaven itself, came this way when he labored to bring down Adam from such high honor. For having puffed him up with the promise that he should be as a God, so he broke him down, and cast him down into the very gulfs of hell. Because nothing so alienates men from the lovingkindness of God, and gives them over to the fire of the pit, as the tyranny of pride. For when this is present with us, our whole life becomes impure, even though we fulfill temperance, chastity, fasting, prayer, almsgiving, anything. For, Every one, says the wise man, that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 16:5 Let us then restrain this swelling of the soul, let us cut up by the roots this lump of pride, if at least we would wish to be clean, and to escape the punishment appointed for the devil. For that the proud must fall under the same punishment as that (wicked) one, hear Paul declare; Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the judgment, and the snare of the devil. What is the judgment? He means, into the same condemnation, the same punishment. How then does he say, that a man мая avoid this dreadful thing? By reflecting upon his own nature, upon the number of his sins, upon the greatness of the torments in that place, upon the transitory nature of the things which seem bright in this world, differing in nothing from grass, and more fading than the flowers of spring. If we continually stir within ourselves these considerations, and keep in mind those who have walked most upright, the devil, though he strive ten thousand ways, will not be able to lift us up, nor even to trip us at all. мая the God who is the God of the humble, the good and merciful God, grant both to you and me a broken and humbled heart, so shall we be enabled easily to order the rest aright, to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Homily 10 on the Gospel of John

John 1:11

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.

1. Beloved, God being loving towards man and beneficent, does and contrives all things in order that we мая shine in virtue, and as desiring that we be well approved by Him. And to this end He draws no one by force or compulsion: but by persuasion and benefits He draws all that will, and wins them to Himself. Wherefore when He came, some received Him, and others received Him not. For He will have no unwilling, no forced domestic, but all of their own will and choice, and grateful to Him for their service. Men, as needing the ministry of servants, keep many in that state even against their will, by the law of ownership; but God, being without wants, and not standing in need of anything of ours, but doing all only for our salvation makes us absolute in this matter, and therefore lays neither force nor compulsion on any of those who are unwilling. For He looks only to our advantage: and to be drawn unwilling to a service like this is the same as not serving at all.

Why then, says one, does He punish those who will not listen to Him, and why has He threatened hell to those who endure not His commands? Because, being Good exceedingly, He cares even for those who obey Him not, and withdraws not from them who start back and flee from Him. But when we had rejected the first way of His beneficence, and had refused to come by the path of persuasion and kind treatment, then He brought in upon us the other way, that of correction and punishments; most bitter indeed, but still necessary, when the former is disregarded. Now lawgivers also appoint many and grievous penalties against offenders, and yet we feel no aversion to them for this; we even honor them the more on account of the punishments they have enacted, and because though not needing a single thing that we have, and often not knowing who they should be that should enjoy the help afforded by their written laws, they still took care for the good ordering of our lives, rewarding those who live virtuously, and checking by punishments the intemperate, and those who would mar the repose of others. And if we admire and love these men, ought we not much more to marvel at and love God on account of His so great care? For the difference between their and His forethought regarding us is infinite. Unspeakable of a truth are the riches of the goodness of God, and passing all excess. Consider; He came to His own, not for His personal need, (for, as I said, the Divinity is without wants,) but to do good unto His own people. Yet not even so did His own receive Him, when He came to His own for their advantage, but repelled Him, and not this only, but they even cast Him out of the vineyard, and slew Him. Yet not for this even did He shut them out from repentance, but granted them, if they had been willing, after such wickedness as this, to wash off all their transgressions by faith in Him, and to be made equal to those who had done no such thing, but are His special friends. And that I say not this at random, or for persuasion's sake, all the history of the blessed Paul loudly declares. For when he, who after the Cross persecuted Christ, and had stoned His martyr Stephen by those many hands, repented, and condemned his former sins, and ran to Him whom he had persecuted, He immediately enrolled him among His friends, and the chiefest of them, having appointed him a herald and teacher of all the world, who had been a blasphemer, and persecutor, and injurious. 1 Timothy 1:13 Even as he rejoicing at the lovingkindness of God, has proclaimed aloud, and has not been ashamed, but having recorded in his writings, as on a pillar, the deeds formerly dared by him, has exhibited them to all; thinking it better that his former life should be placarded in sight of all, so that the greatness of the free gift of God might appear, than that he should obscure His ineffable and indescribable lovingkindness by hesitating to parade before all men his own error. Wherefore continually he treats of his persecution, his plottings, his wars against the Church, at one time saying, I am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God 1Corinthians 15:9; at another, Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 1:15 And again, You have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it. Galatians 1:13

2. For making as it were a kind of return to Christ for His longsuffering towards him, by showing who it was, what a hater and enemy that He saved, he declared with much openness the warfare which at the first with all zeal he warred against Christ; and with this he holds forth good hopes to those who despaired of their condition. For he says, that Christ accepted him, in order that in him first He might show forth all longsuffering 1 Timothy 1:16, and the abundant riches of His goodness, for a pattern to them that should hereafter believe in Him to life everlasting. Because the things which they had dared were too great for any pardon which the Evangelist declaring, said,

He came to His own, and His own received Him not. Whence came He, who fills all things, and who is everywhere present? What place did He empty of His presence, who holds and grasps all things in His hand? He exchanged not one place for another; how should He? But by His coming down to us He effected this. For since, though being in the world, He did not seem to be there, because He was not yet known, but afterwards manifested Himself by deigning to take upon Him our flesh, he (St. John) calls this manifestation and descent a coming. One might wonder at the disciple who is not ashamed of the dishonor of his Teacher, but even records the insolence which was used towards Him: yet this is no small proof of his truth-loving disposition. And besides, he who feels shame should feel it for those who have offered an insult, not for the person outraged. Indeed He by this very thing shone the brighter, as taking, even after the insult, so much care for those who had offered it; while they appeared ungrateful and accursed in the eyes of all men, for having rejected Him who came to bring them so great goods, as hateful to them, and an enemy. And not only in this were they hurt, but also in not obtaining what they obtained who received Him. What did these obtain?

John 1:12

As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.

Why then, O blessed one, do you not also tell us the punishment of them who received Him not? You have said that they were 'His own,' and that when 'He came to His own, they received Him not'; but what they shall suffer for this, what punishment they shall undergo, you have not gone on to add. Yet so you would the more have terrified them, and have softened the hardness of their insanity by threatening. Wherefore then have you been silent? And what other punishment, he would say, can be greater than this, that when power is offered them to become sons of God, they do not become so, but willingly deprive themselves of such nobility and honor as this? Although their punishment shall not even stop at this point, that they gain no good, but moreover the unquenchable fire shall receive them, as in going on he has more plainly revealed. But for the present he speaks of the unutterable goods of those who received Him, and sets these words in brief before us, saying, As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God. Whether bond or free, whether Greeks or barbarians or Scythians, unlearned or learned, female or male, children or old men, in honor or dishonor, rich or poor, rulers or private persons, all, He says, are deemed worthy the same privilege; for faith and the grace of the Spirit, removing the inequality caused by worldly things, has moulded all to one fashion, and stamped them with one impress, the King's. What can equal this lovingkindness? A king, who is framed of the same clay with us, does not deign to enrol among the royal host his fellow-servants, who share the same nature with himself, and in character often are better than he, if they chance to be slaves; but the Only-Begotten Son of God did not disdain to reckon among the company of His children both publicans, sorcerers, and slaves, nay, men of less repute and greater poverty than these, maimed in body, and suffering from ten thousand ills. Such is the power of faith in Him, such the excess of His grace. And as the element of fire, when it meets with ore from the mine, straightway of earth makes it gold, even so and much more Baptism makes those who are washed to be of gold instead of clay; the Spirit at that time falling like fire into our souls, burning up the image of the earthy 1Corinthians 15:49, and producing the image of the heavenly, fresh coined, bright and glittering, as from the furnace-mould.

Why then did he say not that He made them sons of God, but that He gave them power to become sons of God? To show that we need much zeal to keep the image of sonship impressed on us at Baptism, all through without spot or soil ; and at the same time to show that no one shall be able to take this power from us, unless we are the first to deprive ourselves of it. For if among men, those who have received the absolute control of any matters have nearly as much power as those who gave them the charge; much more shall we, who have obtained such honor from God, be, if we do noth ing unworthy of this power, stronger than all; because He who put this honor in our hands is greater and better than all. At the same time too he wishes to show, that not even does grace come upon man irrespectively, but upon those who desire and take pains for it. For it lies in the power of these to become (His) children since if they do not themselves first make the choice, the gift does not come upon them, nor have any effect.

3. Having therefore everywhere excluded compulsion and pointing to (man's) voluntary choice and free power, he has said the same now. For even in these mystical blessings, it is, on the one hand, God's part, to give the grace, on the other, man's to supply faith; and in after time there needs for what remains much earnestness. In order to preserve our purity, it is not sufficient for us merely to have been baptized and to have believed, but we must if we will continually enjoy this brightness, display a life worthy of it. This then is God's work in us. To have been born the mystical Birth, and to have been cleansed from all our former sins, comes from Baptism; but to remain for the future pure, never again after this to admit any stain belongs to our own power and diligence. And this is the reason why he reminds us of the manner of the birth, and by comparison with fleshly pangs shows its excellence, when he says,

John 1:13

Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God.

This he has done, in order that, considering the vileness, and lowness of the first birth, which is of blood, and the will of the flesh, and perceiving the highness and nobleness of the second, which is by grace, we мая form from thence some great opinion of it, and one worthy of the gift of Him who has begotten us, and for the future exhibit much earnestness.

For there is no small fear, lest, having sometime defiled that beautiful robe by our after sloth and transgressions, we be cast out from the inner room and bridal chamber, like the five foolish virgins, or him who had not on a wedding garment. Matthew 25; Matthew 22 He too was one of the guests, for he had been invited; but because, after the invitation and so great an honor, he behaved with insolence towards Him who had invited him, hear what punishment he suffers, how pitiable, fit subject for many tears. For when he comes to partake of that splendid table, not only is he forbidden the least, but bound hand and foot alike, is carried into outer darkness, to undergo eternal and endless wailing and gnashing of teeth. Therefore, beloved, let not us either expect that faith is sufficient to us for salvation; for if we do not show forth a pure life, but come clothed with garments unworthy of this blessed calling, nothing hinders us from suffering the same as that wretched one. It is strange that He, who is God and King, is not ashamed of men who are vile, beggars, and of no repute, but brings even them of the cross ways to that table; while we manifest so much insensibility, as not even to be made better by so great an honor, but even after the call remain in our old wickedness, insolently abusing the unspeakable lovingkindness of Him who has called us. For it was not for this that He called us to the spiritual and awful communion of His mysteries, that we should enter with our former wickedness; but that, putting off our filthiness, we should change our raiment to such as becomes those who are entertained in palaces. But if we will not act worthily of that calling this no longer rests with Him who has honored us, but with ourselves; it is not He that casts us out from that admirable company of guests, but we cast out ourselves.

He has done all His part. He has made the marriage, He has provided the table, He has sent men to call us, has received us when we came, and honored us with all other honor; but we, when we have offered insult to Him, to the company, and to the wedding, by our filthy garments, that is, our impure actions, are then with good cause cast out. It is to honor the marriage and the guests, that He drives off those bold and shameless persons; for were He to suffer those clothed in such a garment, He would seem to be offering insult to the rest. But мая it never be that one, either of us or of other, find this of Him who has called us! For to this end have all these things been written before they come to pass, that we, being sobered by the threats of the Scriptures, мая not suffer this disgrace and punishment to go on to the deed, but stop it at the word only, and each with bright apparel come to that call; which мая it come to pass that we all enjoy, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 11 on the Gospel of John

John 1:14

And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us.

1. I desire to ask one favor of you all, before I touch on the words of the Gospel; do not you refuse my request, for I ask nothing heavy or burdensome, nor, if granted, will it be useful only to me who receive, but also to you who grant it, and perhaps far more so to you. What then is it that I require of you? That each of you take in hand that section of the Gospels which is to be read among you on the first day of the week, or even on the Sabbath, and before the day arrive, that he sit down at home and read it through, and often carefully consider its contents, and examine all its parts well, what is clear, what obscure, what seems to make for the adversaries, but does not really so; and when you have tried, in a word every point, so go to hear it read. For from zeal like this will be no small gain both to you and to us. We shall not need much labor to render clear the meaning of what is said, because your minds will be already made familiar with the sense of the words, and you will become keener and more clear-sighted not for hearing only, nor for learning, but also for the teaching of others. Since, in the way that now most of those who come hither hear, compelled to take in the meaning of all at once, both the words, and the remarks we make upon them, they will not, though we should go on doing this for a whole year, reap any great gain. How can they, when they have leisure for what is said as a bywork, and only in this place, and for this short time? If any lay the fault on business, and cares, and constant occupation in public and private matters, in the first place, this is no slight charge in itself, that they are surrounded with such a multitude of business, are so continually nailed to the things of this life, that they cannot find even a little leisure for what is more needful than all. Besides, that this is a mere pretext and excuse, their meetings with friends would prove against them, their loitering in the theaters, and the parties they make to see horse races, at which they often spend whole days, yet never in that case does one of them complain of the pressure of business. For trifles then you can without making any excuses, always find abundant leisure; but when you ought to attend to the things of God, do these seem to you so utterly superfluous and mean, that you think you need not assign even a little leisure to them? How do men of such disposition deserve to breathe or to look upon this sun?

There is another most foolish excuse of these sluggards; that they have not the books in their possession. Now as to the rich, it is ludicrous that we should take our aim at this excuse; but because I imagine that many of the poorer sort continually use it, I would gladly ask, if every one of them does not have all the instruments of the trade which he works at, full and complete, though infinite poverty stand in his way? Is it not then a strange thing, in that case to throw no blame on poverty, but to use every means that there be no obstacle from any quarter, but, when we might gain such great advantage, to lament our want of leisure and our poverty?

Besides, even if any should be so poor, it is in their power, by means of the continual reading of the holy Scriptures which takes place here, to be ignorant of nothing contained in them. Or if this seems to you impossible, it seems so with reason; for many do not come with fervent zeal to hearken to what is said, but having done this one thing for form's sake on our account, immediately return home. Or if any should stay, they are no better disposed than those who have retired, since they are only present here with us in body. But that we мая not overload you with accusations, and spend all the time in finding fault, let us proceed to the words of the Gospel, for it is time to direct the remainder of our discourse to what is set before us. Rouse yourselves therefore, that nothing of what is said escape you.

And the Word was made Flesh, he says, and dwelt among us.

Having declared that they who received Him were born of God, and had become sons of God, he adds the cause and reason of this unspeakable honor. It is that the Word became Flesh, that the Master took on Him the form of a servant. For He became Son of man, who was God's own Son, in order that He might make the sons of men to be children of God. For the high when it associates with the low touches not at all its own honor, while it raises up the other from its excessive lowness; and even thus it was with the Lord. He in nothing diminished His own Nature by this condescension, but raised us, who had always sat in disgrace and darkness, to glory unspeakable. Thus it мая be, a king, conversing with interest and kindness with a poor mean man, does not at all shame himself, yet makes the other observed by all and illustrious. Now if in the case of the adventitious dignity of men, intercourse with the humbler person in nothing injures the more honorable, much less can it do so in the case of that simple and blessed Essence which has nothing adventitious, or subject to growth or decay, but has all good things immovable, and fixed forever. So that when you hear that the Word became Flesh, be not disturbed nor cast down. For that Essence did not change to flesh, (it is impiety to imagine this,) but continuing what it is, It so took upon It the form of a servant.

2. Wherefore then does he use the expression, was made? To stop the mouths of the heretics. For since there are some who say that all the circumstances of the Dispensation were an appearance, a piece of acting, an allegory, at once to remove beforehand their blasphemy, he has put was made; desiring to show thereby not a change of substance, (away with the thought,) but the assumption of very flesh. For as when (Paul) says, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, he does not mean that His essence removing from Its proper glory took upon It the being of an accursed thing, (this not even devils could imagine, nor even the very foolish, nor those deprived of their natural understanding, such impiety as well as madness does it contain,) as (St. Paul) does not say this, but that He, taking upon Himself the curse pronounced against us, leaves us no more under the curse; so also here he (St. John) says that He was made Flesh, not by changing His Essence to flesh, but by taking flesh to Himself, His Essence remained untouched.

If they say that being God, He is Omnipotent, so that He could lower Himself to the substance of flesh, we will reply to them, that He is Omnipotent as long as He continues to be God. But if He admit of change, change for the worse, how could He be God? For change is far from that simple Nature. Wherefore the Prophet says, They all shall wax old as does a garment, and as a vesture shall Thou roll them up, and they shall be changed; but You are the same, and Your years shall not fail. Psalm 102:27, Septuagint For that Essence is superior to all change. There is nothing better than He, to which He might advance and reach. Better do I say? No, nor equal to, nor the least approaching Him. It remains, therefore, that if He change, He must admit a change for the worse; and this would not be God. But let the blasphemy return upon the heads of those who utter it. Nay, to show that he uses the expression,' was made only that you should not suppose a mere appearance, hear from what follows how he clears the argument, and overthrows that wicked suggestion. For what does he add? And dwelt among us. All but saying, Imagine nothing improper from the word 'was made'; I spoke not of any change of that unchangeable Nature, but of Its dwelling and inhabiting. But that which dwells cannot be the same with that in which it dwells, but different; one thing dwells in a different thing, otherwise it would not be dwelling; for nothing can inhabit itself. I mean, different as to essence; for by an Union and Conjoining God the Word and the Flesh are One, not by any confusion or obliteration of substances, but by a certain union ineffable, and past understanding. Ask not how ; for It was made, so as He knows.

What then was the tabernacle in which He dwelt? Hear the Prophet say; I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. Amos 9:11 It was fallen indeed, our nature had fallen an incurable fall, and needed only that mighty Hand. There was no possibility of raising it again, had not He who fashioned it at first stretched forth to it His Hand, and stamped it anew with His Image, by the regeneration of water and the Spirit. And observe I pray you, the awful and ineffable nature of the mystery. He inhabits this tabernacle for ever, for He clothed Himself with our flesh, not as again to leave it, but always to have it with Him. Had not this been the case, He would not have deemed it worthy of the royal throne, nor would He while wearing it have been worshipped by all the host of heaven, angels, archangels, thrones, principalities, dominions, powers. What word, what thought can represent such great honor done to our race, so truly marvelous and awful? What angel, what archangel? Not one in any place, whether in heaven, or upon earth. For such are the mighty works of God, so great and marvelous are His benefits, that a right description of them exceeds not only the tongue of men, but even the power of angels.

Wherefore we will for a while close our discourse, and be silent; only delivering to you this charge, that you repay this our so great Benefactor by a return which again shall bring round to us all profit. The return is, that we look with all carefulness to the state of our souls. For this too is the work of His lovingkindness, that He who stands in no need of anything of ours says that He is repaid when we take care of our own souls. It is therefore an act of extremist folly, and one deserving ten thousand chastisements, if we, when such honor has been lavished upon us, will not even contribute what we can, and that too when profit comes round to us again by these means, and ten thousand blessings are laid before us on these conditions. For all these things let us return glory to our merciful God, not by words only, but much more by works that we мая obtain the good things hereafter, which мая it be that we all attain to, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 12 on the Gospel of John

John 1:14

And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

1. Perhaps we seemed to you the other day needlessly hard upon you and burdensome, using too sharp language, and extending too far our reproaches against the sluggishness of the many. Now if we had done this merely from a desire to vex you, each of you would with cause have been angry; but if, looking to your advantage, we neglected in our speech what might gratify you, if you will not give us credit for our forethought, you should at least pardon us on account of such tender love. For in truth we greatly fear, lest, if we are taking pains, and you are not willing to manifest the same diligence in listening your future reckoning мая be the more severe. Wherefore we are compelled continually to arouse and waken you, that nothing of what is said мая escape you. For so you will be enabled to live for the present with much confidence, and to exhibit it at that Day before the judgment-seat of Christ. Since then we have lately sufficiently touched you, let us today at the outset enter on the expressions themselves.

We beheld, he says, His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father.

Having declared that we were made sons of God, and having shown in what manner, namely, by the Word having been made Flesh, he again mentions another advantage which we gain from this same circumstance. What is it? We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father; which we could not have beheld, had it not been shown to us, by means of a body like to our own. For if the men of old time could not even bear to look upon the glorified countenance of Moses, who partook of the same nature with us, if that just man needed a veil which might shade over the purity of his glory, and show to them the face of their prophet mild and gentle; how could we creatures of clay and earth have endured the unveiled Godhead, which is unapproachable even by the powers above? Wherefore He tabernacled among us, that we might be able with much fearlessness to approach Him, speak to, and converse with Him.

But what means the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father? Since many of the Prophets too were glorified, as this Moses himself, Elijah, and Elisha, the one encircled by the fiery chariot 2 Kings 6:17, the other taken up by it; and after them, Daniel and the Three Children, and the many others who showed forth wonders ; and angels who have appeared among men, and partly disclosed to beholders the flashing light of their proper nature; and since not angels only, but even the Cherubim were seen by the Prophet in great glory, and the Seraphim also: the Evangelist leading us away from all these, and removing our thoughts from created things, and from the brightness of our fellow-servants, sets us at the very summit of good. For, not of prophet, says he, nor angel, nor archangel, nor of the higher power, nor of any other created nature, if other there be, but of the Master Himself, the King Himself, the true Only-Begotten Son Himself, of the Very Lord of all, did we behold the glory.

For the expression as, does not in this place belong to similarity or comparison, but to confirmation and unquestionable definition; as though he said, We beheld glory, such as it was becoming, and likely that He should possess, who is the Only-Begotten and true Son of God, the King of all. The habit (of so speaking) is general, for I shall not refuse to strengthen my argument even from common custom, since it is not now my object to speak with any reference to beauty of words, or elegance of composition, but only for your advantage; and therefore there is nothing to prevent my establishing my argument by the instance of a common practice. What then is the habit of most persons? Often when any have seen a king richly decked, and glittering on all sides with precious stones, and are afterwards describing to others the beauty, the ornaments, the splendor, they enumerate as much as they can, the glowing tint of the purple robe, the size of the jewels, the whiteness of the mules, the gold about the yoke, the soft and shining couch. But when after enumerating these things, and other things besides these, they cannot, say what they will, give a full idea of the splendor, they immediately bring in: But why say much about it; once for all, he was like a king; not desiring by the expression like, to show that he, of whom they say this, resembles a king, but that he is a real king. Just so now the Evangelist has put the word as, desiring to represent the transcendent nature and incomparable excellence of His glory.

For indeed all others, both angels and archangels and prophets, did everything as under command; but He with the authority which becomes a King and Master; at which even the multitudes wondered, that He taught as one having authority. Matthew 7:29 Even angels, as I said, have appeared with great glory upon the earth; as in the case of Daniel, of David, of Moses, but they did all as servants who have a Master. But He as Lord and Ruler of all, and this when He appeared in poor and humble form; but even so creation recognized her Lord. Now the star from heaven which called the wise men to worship Him, the vast throng pouring everywhere of angels attending the Lord, and hymning His praise, and besides them, many other heralds sprang up on a sudden, and all, as they met, declared to one another the glad tidings of this ineffable mystery; the angels to the shepherds; the shepherds to those of the city; Gabriel to Mary and Elisabeth; Anna and Simeon to those who came to the Temple. Nor were men and women only lifted up with pleasure, but the very infant who had not yet come forth to light, I mean the citizen of the wilderness, the namesake of this Evangelist, leaped while yet in his mother's womb, and all were soaring with hopes for the future. This too immediately after the Birth. But when He had manifested Himself still farther, other wonders, yet greater than the first, were seen. For it was no more star, or sky, no more angels, or archangels, not Gabriel, or Michael, but the Father Himself from heaven above, who proclaimed Him, and with the Father the Comforter, flying down at the uttering of the Voice and resting on Him. Truly therefore did he say, We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father.

2. Yet he says it not only on account of these things, but also on account of what followed them; for no longer do shepherds only, and widow women, and aged men, declare to us the good tidings, but the very voice of the things themselves, sounding clearer than any trumpet, and so loudly, that the sound was straightway heard even in this land. For, says one, his fame went into all Syria Matthew 4:24; and He revealed Himself to all, and all things everywhere exclaimed, that the King of Heaven had come. Evil spirits everywhere fled and started away from Him, Satan covered his face and retired, death at that time retreated before Him, and afterwards disappeared altogether; every kind of infirmity was loosed, the graves let free the dead, the devils those whom they had maddened, and diseases the sick. And one might see things strange and wonderful, such as with good cause the prophets desired to see, and saw not. One might see eyes fashioned John 9:6–7, (might see) Him showing to all in short space and on the more noble portion of the body, that admirable thing which all would have desired to see, how God formed Adam from the earth; palsied and distorted limbs fastened and adapted to each other, dead hands moving, palsied feet leaping amain, ears that were stopped re-opened, and the tongue sounding aloud which before was tied by speechlessness. For having taken in hand the common nature of men, as some excellent workman might take a house decayed by time, He filled up what was broken off, banded together its crevices and shaken portions, and raised up again what was entirely fallen down.

And what should one say of the fashioning of the soul, so much more admirable than that of the body? The health of our bodies is a great thing, but that of our souls is as much greater as the soul is better than the body. And not on this account only, but because our bodily nature follows withersoever the Creator will lead it, and there is nothing to resist, but the soul being its own mistress, and possessing power over its acts, does not in all things obey God, unless it will to do so. For God will not make it beautiful and excellent, if it be reluctant and in a manner constrained by force, for this is not virtue at all; but He must persuade it to become so of its own will and choice. And so this cure is more difficult than the other; yet even this succeeded, and every kind of wickedness was banished. And as He re-ordered the bodies which He cured, not to health only, but to the highest vigor, so did He not merely deliver the souls from extremist wickedness, but brought them to the very summit of excellence. A publican became an Apostle, and a persecutor, blasphemer, and injurious, appeared as herald to the world, and the Magi became teachers of the Jews, and a thief was declared a citizen of Paradise, and a harlot shone forth by the greatness of her faith, and of the two women, of Canaan and Samaria, the latter who was another harlot, undertook to preach the Gospel to her countrymen, and having enclosed a whole city in her net, so brought them to Christ; while the former by faith and perseverance, procured the expulsion of an evil spirit from her daughter's soul; and many others much worse than these were straightway numbered in the rank of disciples, and at once all the infirmities of their bodies and diseases of their souls were transformed, and they were fashioned anew to health and exactest virtue. And of these, not two or three men, not five, or ten, or twenty, or an hundred only, but entire cities and nations, were very easily remodeled. Why should one speak of the wisdom of the commands, the excellency of the heavenly laws, the good ordering of the angelic polity? For such a life has He proposed to us, such laws appointed for us, such a polity established, that those who put these things into practice, immediately become angels and like to God, as far as is in our power, even though they мая have been worse than all men.

3. The Evangelist therefore having brought together all these things, the marvels in our bodies, in our souls, in the elements (of our faith), the commandments, those gifts ineffable and higher than the heavens, the laws, the polity, the persuasion, the future promises, His sufferings, uttered that voice so wonderful and full of exalted doctrine, saying, We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. For we admire Him not only on account of the miracles, but also by reason of the sufferings; as that He was nailed upon the Cross, that He was scourged, that He was buffeted, that He was spit upon, that He received blows on the cheek from those to whom He had done good. For even of those very things which seem to be shameful, it is proper to repeat the same expression, since He Himself called that action glory. For what then took place was (proof) not only of kindness and love, but also of unspeakable power. At that time death was abolished, the curse was loosed, devils were shamed and led in triumph and made a show of, and the handwriting of our sins was nailed to the Cross. And then, since these wonders were doing invisibly, others took place visibly, showing that He was of a truth the Only-Begotten Son of God, the Lord of all creation. For while yet that blessed Body hung upon the tree, the sun turned away his rays, the whole earth was troubled and became dark, the graves were opened, the ground quaked, and an innumerable multitude of dead leaped forth, and went into the city. And while the stones of His tomb were fastened upon the vault, and the seals yet upon them, the Dead arose, the Crucified, the nail-pierced One, and having filled His eleven disciples with His mighty power, He sent them to men throughout all the world, to be the common healers of all their kind, to correct their way of living, to spread through every part of the earth the knowledge of their heavenly doctrines, to break down the tyranny of devils, to teach those great and ineffable blessings, to bring to us the glad tidings of the soul's immortality, and the eternal life of the body, and rewards which are beyond conception, and shall never have an end. These things then, and yet more than these, the blessed Evangelist having in mind, things which though he knew, he was not able to write, because the world could not have contained them (for if all things should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written John 21:25), reflecting therefore on all these, he cries out, We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

It behooves therefore those who have been deemed worthy to see and to hear such things, and who have enjoyed so great a gift, to display also a life worthy of the doctrines, that they мая enjoy also the good things which are (laid up) there. For our Lord Jesus Christ came, not only that we might behold His glory here, but also that which shall be. For therefore He says, I will that these also be with Me where I am, that they мая behold My glory. John 17:24 Now if the glory here was so bright and splendid, what can one say of that (which shall be)? For it shall appear not on this corruptible earth, nor while we are in perishable bodies, but in a creation which is imperishable, and waxes not old, and with such brightness as it is not possible even to represent in words. O blessed, thrice blessed, yea many times so, they who are deemed worthy to be beholders of that glory! It is concerning this that the prophet says, Let the unrighteous be taken away, that he behold not the glory of the Lord. Isaiah 26:10, Septuagint God grant that not one of us be taken away nor excluded ever from beholding it. For if we shall not hereafter enjoy it, then it is time to say of ourselves, Good were it for us, if we had never been born. For why do we live and breathe? What are we, if we fail of that spectacle, if no one grant us then to behold our Lord? If those who see not the light of the sun endure a life more bitter than any death, what is it likely that they who are deprived of that light must suffer? For in the one case the loss is confined to this one privation; but in the other it does not rest here, (though if this were the only thing to be dreaded, even then the degrees of punishment would not be equal, but one would be as much severer than the other, as that sun is incomparably superior to this,) but now we must look also for other vengeance; for he who beholds not that light must not only be led into darkness, but must be burned continually, and waste away, and gnash his teeth, and suffer ten thousand other dreadful things. Let us then not permit ourselves by making this brief time a time of carelessness and remissness, to fall into everlasting punishment, but let us watch and be sober, let us do all things, and make it all our business to attain to that felicity, and to keep far from that river of fire, which rushes with a loud roaring before the terrible judgment seat. For he who has once been cast in there, must remain for ever; there is no one to deliver him from his punishment, not father, not mother, not brother. And this the prophets themselves declared aloud; one saying, Brother delivers not brother. Shall man deliver? Psalm 49:7, Septuagint And Ezekiel has declared somewhat more than this, saying, Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters. Ezekiel 14:16 For one defense only, that through works, is there, and he who is deprived of that cannot be saved by any other means. Revolving these things, then, and reflecting upon them continually, let us cleanse our life and make it lustrous, that we мая see the Lord with boldness, and obtain the promised good things; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 13 on the Gospel of John

John 1:15

John bears witness of Him, and cries, saying, This is He of whom I spoke, saying, He that comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.

1. Do we then run and labor in vain? Are we sowing upon the rocks? Does the seed fall upon the rocks? Does the seed fall without our knowing it by the wayside, and among thorns? I am greatly troubled and fear, lest our husbandry be unprofitable; not as though I shall be a loser as well as you, touching the reward of this labor. For it is not with those who teach as it is with husbandmen. Oftentimes the husbandman after his year's toil, his hard work and sweat, if the earth produce no suitable return for his pains, will be able to find comfort for his labors from none else, but returns ashamed and downcast from his barn to his dwelling, his wife and children, unable to require of any man a reward for his lengthened toil. But in our case there is nothing like this. For even though the soil which we cultivate bring forth no fruit, if we have shown all industry, the Lord of it and of us will not suffer us to depart with disappointed hopes, but will give us a recompense; for, says St. Paul, Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor 1Corinthians 3:8, not according to the event of things. And that it is so, hearken: And You, he says, Son of man, testify unto this people, if they will hear, and if they will understand. Ezekiel 2:5, not from Septuagint And Ezekiel says, If the watchman give warning what it behooves to flee from, and what to choose, he has delivered his own soul, although there be none that will take heed. Ezekiel 3:18, and 33:9; not quoted from Septuagint Yet although we have this strong consolation, and are confident of the recompense that shall be made us, still when we see that the work in you does not go forward, our state is not better than the state of those husbandmen who lament and mourn, who hide their faces and are ashamed. This is the sympathy of a teacher, this is the natural care of a father. For Moses too, when it was in his power to have been delivered from the ingratitude of the Jews, and to have laid the more glorious foundation of another and far greater people, (Let Me alone, said God, that I мая consume them, and make of you a nation mightier than this Exodus 32:10) because he was a holy man, the servant of God, and a friend very true and generous, he did not endure even to hearken to this word, but chose rather to perish with those who had been once allotted to him, than without them to be saved and be in greater honor. Such ought he to be who has the charge of souls. For it is a strange thing that any one who has weak children, will not be called the father of any others than those who are sprung from him, but that he who has had disciples placed in his hands should be continually changing one flock for another, that we should be catching at the charge now of these, then of those, then again of others, having no real affection for any one. мая we never have cause to suspect this of you. We trust that you abound more in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in love to one another and towards all men. And this we say as desiring that your zeal мая be increased, and the excellence of your conversation farther advanced. For it is thus that you will be able to bring your understandings down to the very depth of the words set before us, if no film of wickedness darken the eyes of your intellect, and disturb its clearsightedness and acuteness.

What then is it which is set before us today? John bore witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. The Evangelist is very full in making frequent mention of John, and often bearing about his testimony. And this he does not without a reason, but very wisely; for all the Jews held the man in great admiration, (even Josephus imputes the war to his death; and shows, that, on his account, what once was the mother city, is now no city at all, and continues the words of his encomium to great length,) and therefore desiring by his means to make the Jews ashamed, he continually reminds them of the testimony of the forerunner. The other Evangelists make mention of the older prophets, and at each successive thing that took place respecting Him refer the hearer to them. Thus when the Child is born, they say, Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esias the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son Matthew 1:22; Isaiah 7:14; and when He is plotted against and sought for everywhere so diligently, that even tender infancy is slaughtered by Herod, they bring in Jeremy, saying, In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children Matthew 2:18; Jeremiah 31:15; and again, when He comes up out of Egypt, they mention Hosea, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son Matthew 2:15; Hosea 11:1; and this they do everywhere. But John providing testimony more clear and fresh, and uttering a voice more glorious than the other, brings continually forward not those only who had departed and were dead, but one also who was alive and present, who pointed Him out and baptized Him, him he continually introduces, not desiring to gain credit for the master through the servant, but condescending to the infirmity of his hearers. For as unless He had taken the form of a servant, He would not have been easily received, so had He not by the voice of a servant prepared the ears of his fellow-servants, the many (at any rate) of the Jews would not have received the Word.

2. But besides this, there was another great and wonderful provision. For because to speak any great words concerning himself, makes a man's witness to be suspected, and is often an obstacle to many hearers, another comes to testify of Him. And besides this the many are in a manner wont to run more readily to a voice which is more familiar and natural to them, as recognizing it more than other voices; and therefore the voice from heaven was uttered once or twice, but that of John oftentimes and continually. For those of the people who had surmounted the infirmity of their nature, and had been released from all the things of sense, could hear the Voice from heaven, and had no great need of that of man, but in all things obeyed that other, and were led by it; but they who yet moved below, and were wrapt in many veils, needed that meaner (voice). In the same way John, because he had snipped himself in every way of the things of sense, needed no other instructors, but was taught from heaven. He that sent me, says he, to baptize with water, the Same said to me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit of God descending, the same is He. John 1:33 But the Jews who still were children, and could not as yet reach to that height, had a man for their teacher, a man who did not speak to them words of his own, but brought them a message from above.

What then says he? He bears witness concerning Him, and cries, saying What means that word cries? Boldly, he means, and freely, without any reserve, he proclaims. What does he proclaim? To what does he bear witness, and cry? This is He of whom I said, He that comes after me is preferred before me; for He was before me. The testimony is dark, and contains besides much that is lowly. For he does not say, This is the Son of God, the Only-begotten, the true Son ; but what? He that comes after me, is preferred before me; for He was before me. As the mother birds do not teach their young all at once how to fly, nor finish their teaching in a single day, but at first lead them forth so as to be just outside the nest, then after first allowing them to rest, set them again to flying, and on the next day continue a flight much farther, and so gently, little by little, bring them to the proper height; just so the blessed John did not immediately bring the Jews to high things, but taught them for a while to fly up a little above the earth saying, that Christ was greater than he. And yet this, even this was for the time no small thing, to have been able to persuade the hearers that one who had not yet appeared nor worked any wonders was greater than a man, (John, I mean,) so marvelous, so famous, to whom all ran, and whom they thought to be an angel. For a while therefore he labored to establish this in the minds of his hearers, that He to whom testimony was borne was greater than he who bore it; He that came after, than he that came before, He who had not yet appeared, than he that was manifest and famous. And observe how prudently he introduces his testimony; for he does not only point Him out when He has appeared, but even before He appears, proclaims Him. For the expression, This is He of whom I spoke, is the expression of one declaring this. As also Matthew says, that when all came to him, he said, I indeed baptize you with water, but He that comes after me is mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. Wherefore then even before His appearance did he this? In order that when He appeared, the testimony might readily be received, the minds of the hearers being already prepossessed by what was said concerning Him, and the mean external appearance not vitiating it. For if without having heard anything at all concerning Him they had seen the Lord, and as they beheld Him had at the same time received the testimony of John's words, so wonderful and great, the meanness of His appearance would have straightway been an objection to the grandeur of the expressions. For Christ took on Him an appearance so mean and ordinary, that even Samaritan women, and harlots, and publicans, had confidence boldly to approach and converse with Him. As therefore, I said, if they had at once heard these words and seen Himself, they might perhaps have mocked at the testimony of John; but now because even before Christ appeared, they had often heard and had been accustomed to what was said concerning Him, they were affected in the opposite way, not rejecting the instruction of the words by reason of the appearance of Him who was witnessed of, but from their belief of what had been already told them, esteeming Him even more glorious.

The phrase, that comes after, means, that preaches after me, not that was born after me. And this Matthew glances at when he says, after me comes a man, not speaking of His birth from Mary, but of His coming to preach (the Gospel), for had he been speaking of the birth, he would not have said, comes, but has come; since He was born when John spoke this. What then means is before me? Is more glorious, more honorable. Do not, he says, because I came preaching first from this, suppose that I am greater than He; I am much inferior, so much inferior that I am not worthy to be counted in the rank of a servant. This is the sense of is before me, which Matthew showing in a different manner, says, The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. Luke 3:16 Again, that the phrase, is before me, does not refer to His coming into Being, is plain from the sequel; for had he meant to say this, what follows, for He was before me, would be superfluous. For who so dull and foolish as not to know that He who was born before him was before him? Or if the words refer to His subsistence before the ages, what is said is nothing else than that He who comes after me came into being before me. Besides, such a thing as this is unintelligible, and the cause is thrown in needlessly; for he ought to have said the contrary, if he had wished to declare this, that He who comes after me was before me, since also He was born before me. For one might with reason assign this, (the being born before) as the cause of being before, but not the being before, as the cause of being born. While what we assert is very reasonable. Since you all at least know this, that they are always things uncertain not things evident, that require their causes to be assigned. Now if the argument related to the production of substance, it could not have been uncertain that he who was born first must needs be first; but because he is speaking concerning honor, he with reason explains what seems to be a difficulty. For many might well enquire, whence and on what pretext He who came after, became before, that is, appeared with great honor; in reply to this question therefore, he immediately assigns the reason; and the reason is, His Being first. He does not say, that by some kind of advancement he cast me who has been first behind him, and so became before me, but that he was before me, even though he arrives after me.

But how, says one, if the Evangelist refers to His manifestation to men, and to the glory which was to attend Him from them, does he speak of what was not yet accomplished, as having already taken place? For he does not say, shall be, but was. Because this is a custom among the prophets of old, to speak of the future as of the past. Thus Isaiah speaking of His slaughter does not say, He shall be led (which would have denoted futurity) as a sheep to the slaughter; but He was led as a sheep to the slaughter Isaiah 53:7; yet He was not yet Incarnate, but the Prophet speaks of what should be as if it had come to pass. So David, pointing to the Crucifixion, said not, They shall pierce My hands and My feet, but They pierced My hands and My feet, and parted My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture Psalm 22:16–18; and discoursing of the traitor as yet unborn, he says, He which did eat of My bread, has lifted up his heel against Me Psalm 41:9; and of the circumstances of the Crucifixion, They gave Me gall for meat, and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:21

4. Do you desire that we adduce more examples, or do these suffice? For my part, I think they do; for if we have not dug over the ground in all its extent, we have at least dug down to its bottom; and this last kind of work is not less laborious than the former; and we fear lest by straining your attention immoderately we cause you to fall back.

Let us then give to our discourse a becoming conclusion. And what conclusion is becoming? A suitable giving of glory to God; and that is suitable which is given, not by words only, but much more by actions. For He says, Let your light so shine before men, that they мая see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven. Matthew 5:16 Now nothing is more full of light than a most excellent conversation. As one of the wise men has said, The paths of the just shine like the light Proverbs 4:18, Septuagint; and they shine not for them alone who kindle the flame by their works, and are guides in the way of righteousness, but also for those who are their neighbors. Let us then pour oil into these lamps, that the flame become higher, that rich light appear. For not only has this oil great strength now, but even when sacrifices were at their height, it was far more acceptable than they could be. I will have mercy, He says, and not sacrifice. Matthew 12:7; Hosea 6:6 And with good reason; for that is a lifeless altar, this a living; and all that is laid on that altar becomes the food of fire, and ends in dust, and it is poured forth as ashes, and the smoke of it is dissolved into the substance of the air; but here there is nothing like this, the fruits which it bears are different. As the words of Paul declare; for in describing the treasures of kindness to the poor laid up by the Corinthians, he writes, For the administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God. 2Corinthians 9:12 And again; Whiles they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; and by their prayer for you, which long after you. Do you behold it resolving itself into thanksgiving and praise of God, and continual prayers of those who have been benefited, and more fervent charity? Let us then sacrifice, beloved, let us sacrifice every day upon these altars. For this sacrifice is greater than prayer and fasting, and many things beside, if only it come from honest gain, and honest toils, and be pure from all covetousness, and rapine, and violence. For God accepts such offerings as these, but the others He turns away from and hates; He will not be honored out of other men's calamities, such sacrifice is unclean and profane, and would rather anger God than appease Him. So that we must use all carefulness, that we do not, in the place of service, insult Him whom we would honor. For if Cain for making a second-rate offering, having done no other wrong, suffered extreme punishment, how shall not we when we offer anything gained by rapine and covetousness, suffer yet more severely. It is for this that God has shown to us the pattern of this commandment, that we might have mercy, not be severe to our fellow-servants; but he who takes what belongs to one and gives it to another, has not shown mercy, but inflicted hurt, and done an extreme injustice. As then a stone cannot yield oil, so neither can cruelty produce humanity; for alms when it has such a root as this is alms no longer. Therefore I exhort that we look not to this only, that we give to those that need, but also that we give not from other men's plunder. When one prays, and another curses, whose voice will the Lord hear? Sirach 34:24 If we guide ourselves thus strictly, we shall be able by the grace of God to obtain much lovingkindness and mercy and pardon for what we have done amiss during all this long time, and to escape the river of fire; from which мая it come to pass that we be all delivered, and ascend to the Kingdom of Heaven, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 14 on the Gospel of John

John 1:16

And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

1. I said the other day, that John, to resolve the doubts of those who should question with themselves how the Lord, though He came after to the preaching, became before and more glorious than he, added, for He was before me. And this is indeed one reason. But not content with this, he adds again a second, which now he declares. What is it? And of his fullness, says he, have all we received, and grace for grace. With these again he mentions another. What is this? That

John 1:17

The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

And what means that, says he, Of His fullness have all we received? For to this we must for a while direct our discourse. He possesses not, says he, the gift by participation, but is Himself the very Fountain and very Root of all good, very Life, and very Light, and very Truth, not retaining within Himself the riches of His good things, but overflowing with them unto all others, and after the overflowing remaining full, in nothing diminished by supplying others, but streaming ever forth, and imparting to others a share of these blessings, He remains in sameness of perfection. What I possess is by participation, (for I received it from another) and is a small portion of the whole, as it were a poor rain-drop compared with the untold abyss or the boundless sea; or rather not even can this instance fully express what we attempt to say, for if you take a drop from the sea, you have lessened the sea itself, though the diminution be imperceptible. But of that Fountain we cannot say this; how much soever a man draw, It continues undiminished. We therefore must needs proceed to another instance, a weak one also, and not able to establish what we seek, but which guides us better than the former one to the thought now proposed to us.

Let us suppose that there is a fountain of fire; that from that fountain ten thousand lamps are kindled, twice as many, thrice as many, ofttimes as many; does not the fire remain at the same degree of fullness even after its imparting of its virtue to such members? It is plain to every man that it does. Now if in the case of bodies which are made up of parts, and are diminished by abstraction, one has been found of such a nature, that after supplying to others something from itself it sustains no loss, much more will this take place with that incorporeal and uncompounded Power. If in the instance given, that which is communicated is substance and body, is divided yet does not suffer division, when our discourse is concerning an energy, and an energy too of an incorporeal substance, it is much more probable that this will undergo nothing of the sort. And therefore John said, Of His fullness have all we received, and joins his own testimony to that of the Baptist; for the expression, Of his fullness have we all received, belongs not to the forerunner but to the disciple; and its meaning is something like this: Think not, he says, that we, who long time companied with Him, and partook of His food and table, bear witness through favor, since even John, who did not even know Him before, who had never even been with Him, but merely saw Him in company with others when he was baptizing cried out, He was before me, having from that source received all; and all we the twelve, the three hundred, the three thousand, the five thousand, the many myriads of Jews, all the fullness of the faithful who then were, and now are, and hereafter shall be, have received of His fullness. What have we received? grace for grace, says he. What grace, for what? For the old, the new. For there was a righteousness, and again a righteousness, (Touching the righteousness which is in the law, says Paul blameless.) Philippians 3:6 There was a faith, there is a faith. (From faith to faith.) Romans 1:17 There was an adoption, there is an adoption. (To whom pertains the adoption.) Romans 9:4 There was a glory, there is a glory. (For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remains is glorious.) 2Corinthians 3:11 There was a law, and there is a law. (For the law of the Spirit of life has made me free.) Romans 8:2 There was a service, and there is a service. (To whom pertains the service Romans 9:4 and again: Serving God in the Spirit.) Philippians 3:3 There was a covenant, and there is a covenant. (I will make with you a new covenant, not according to the covenant which I made with your fathers.) Jeremiah 31:31 There was a sanctification, and there is a sanctification: there was a baptism, and there is a Baptism: there was a sacrifice, and there is a Sacrifice: there was a temple, and there is a temple: there was a circumcision, and there is a circumcision; and so too there was a grace, and there is a grace. But the words in the first case are used as types, in the second as realities, preserving a sameness of sound, though not of sense. So in patterns and figures, the shape of a man scratched with white lines upon a black ground is called a man as well as that which has received the correct coloring; and in the case of statues, the figure whether formed of gold or of plaster, is alike called a statue, though in the one case as a model, in the other as a reality.

2. Do not then, because the same words are used, suppose that the things are identical, nor yet diverse either; for in that they were models they did not differ from the truth; but in that they merely preserved the outline, they were less than the truth. What is the difference in all these instances? Will you that we take in hand and proceed to examine one or two of the cases mentioned? Thus the rest will be plain to you; and we shall see that the first were lessons for children, the last for high-minded full-grown men; that the first laws were made as for mortals, the latter as for angels.

Whence then shall we begin? From the sonship itself? What then is the distinction between the first and second? The first is the honor of a name, in the second the thing goes with it. Of the first the Prophet says, I have said, You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High Psalm 82:6; but of the latter, that they were born of God. How, and in what way? By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. For they, even after they had received the title of sons, retained the spirit of slavery, (for while they remained slaves they were honored with this appellation,) but we being made free, received the honor, not in name, but in deed. And this Paul has declared and said, For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15 For having been born again, and, as one мая say, thoroughly remade, we so are called sons. And if one consider the character of the holiness, what the first was and what the second, he will find there also great difference. They when they did not worship idols, nor commit fornication or adultery, were called by this name; but we become holy, not by refraining from these vices merely, but by acquiring things greater. And this gift we obtain first by means of the coming upon us of the Holy Ghost; and next, by a rule of life far more comprehensive than that of the Jews. To prove that these words are not mere boasting hear what He says to them, You shall not use divination, nor make purification of your children, for you are a holy people. So that holiness with them consisted in being free from the customs of idolatry; but it is not so with us. That she мая be holy, says Paul, in body and spirit. 1Corinthians 7:34 Follow peace, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord Hebrews 12:14: and, Perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2Corinthians 7:1 For the word holy has not force to give the same meaning in every case to which it is applied; since God is called Holy, though not as we are. What, for instance, does the Prophet say, when he heard that cry raised by the flying Seraphim? Woe is me! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips Isaiah 6:5; though he was holy and clean; but if we be compared with the holiness which is above, we are unclean. Angels are holy, Archangels are holy, the Cherubim and Seraphim themselves are holy, but of this holiness again there is a double difference; that is, in relation to us, and to the higher powers. We might proceed to all the other points, but then the discussion would become too long, and its extent too great. We will therefore desist from proceeding farther, and leave it to you to take in hand the rest, for it is in your power at home to put these things together, and examine their difference, and in the same way to go over what remains. Give, says one, a starting place to the wise, and he becomes wiser. Proverbs 9:9 , Septuagint The beginning is from us, but the end will be from you. We must now resume the connection.

After having said, Of His fullness have all we received, he adds, and grace for grace. For by grace the Jews were saved: I chose you, says God, not because you were many in number, but because of your fathers. Deuteronomy 7:7, Septuagint If now they were chosen by God not for their own good deeds, it is manifest that by grace they obtained this honor. And we too all are saved by grace, but not in like manner; not for the same objects, but for objects much greater and higher. The grace then that is with us is not like theirs. For not only was pardon of sins given to us, (since this we have in common with them, for all have sinned,) but righteousness also, and sanctification, and sonship, and the gift of the Spirit far more glorious and more abundant. By this grace we have become the beloved of God, no longer as servants, but as sons and friends. Wherefore he says, grace for grace. Since even the things of the law were of grace, and the very fact of man being created from nothing, (for we did not receive this as a recompense for past good deeds, how could we, when we even were not? But from God who is ever the first to bestow His benefits,) and not only that we were created from nothing, but that when created, we straightway learned what we must and what we must not do, and that we received this law in our very nature, and that our Creator entrusted to us the impartial rule of conscience, these I say, are proofs of the greatest grace and unspeakable lovingkindness. And the recovery of this law after it had become corrupt, by means of the written (Law), this too was the work of grace. For what might have been expected to follow was, that they who falsified the law once given should suffer correction and punishments; but what actually took place was not this, but, on the contrary, an amending of our nature, and pardon, not of debt, but given through mercy and grace. For to show that it was of grace and mercy, hear what David says; The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed; He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel Psalm 103:6–7: and again; Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will He give laws to them that are in the way. Psalm 25:8

3. Therefore that men received the law was of pity, mercies, and grace; and for this reason he says, Grace for grace. But striving yet more fervently to (express) the greatness of the gifts, he goes on to say,

Ver. 17 . The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Do you see how gently, by a single word and little by little, both John the Baptist and John the Disciple lead up their hearers to the highest knowledge, having first exercised them in humbler things? The former having compared to himself Him who is incomparably superior to all, thus afterwards shows His superiority, by saying, has become before me, and then adding the words, was before me: while the latter has done much more than he, though too little for the worthiness of the Only-Begotten, for he makes the comparison, not with John, but with one reverenced by the Jews more than John, with Moses. For the law, says he, was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Observe his wisdom. He makes enquiry not concerning the person, but the things; for these being proved, it was probable that even the senseless would of necessity receive from them a much higher judgment and notion respecting Christ. For when facts bear witness, which cannot be suspected of doing so either from favor to any, or from malice, they afford a means of judging which cannot be doubted even by the senseless; for they remain to open view just as their actors мая have arranged them, and therefore their evidence is the least liable to suspicion of any. And see how he makes the comparison easy even to the weaker sort; for he does not prove the superiority by argument, but points out the difference by the bare words, opposing grace and truth to law, and came to was given. Between each of these there is a great difference; for one, was given, belongs to something ministered, when one has received from another, and given to whom he was commanded to give; but the other, grace and truth came, befits a king forgiving all offenses, with authority, and himself furnishing the gift. Wherefore He said, Your sins be forgiven you Matthew 9:2; and again, But that you мая know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins (He says to the sick of the palsy), Arise, take up your bed, and go unto your house. Matthew 5:6

Do you see how grace comes by Him? Look also to truth. His grace the instance just mentioned, and what happened in the case of the thief, and the gift of Baptism, and the grace of the Spirit given by Him declare, and many other things. But His truth we shall more clearly know, if we understand the types. For the types like patterns anticipated and sketched beforehand the dispensations which should be accomplished under the new covenant, and Christ came and fulfilled them. Let us now consider the types in few words, for we cannot at the present time go through all that relates to them; but when you have learned some points from those (instances) which I shall set before you, you will know the others also.

Will you then that we begin with the Passion itself? What then says the type? Take a lamb for a house, and kill it, and do as he commanded and ordained. Exodus 12:3 But it is not so with Christ. He does not command this to be done, but Himself becomes It, by offering Himself a Sacrifice and Oblation to His Father.

4. See how the type was given by Moses, but the Truth came by Jesus Christ. Exodus 17:12

Again, when the Amalekites warred in Mount Sinai, the hands of Moses were supported, being stayed up by Aaron and Hur standing on either side of him Exodus 17:12; but when Christ came, He of Himself stretched forth His Hands upon the Cross. Have you observed how the type was given, but the Truth came?

Again, the Law said, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things that are written in this book. Deuteronomy 27:26, Septuagint But what says grace? Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest Matthew 11:28; and Paul, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Galatians 3:13

Since then we have enjoyed such grace and truth, I exhort you that we be not more slothful by reason of the greatness of the gift; for the greater the honor of which we have been deemed worthy, the greater our debt of excellence; for one who has received but small benefits, even though he makes but small returns, does not deserve the same condemnation; but he who has been raised to the highest summit of honor, and yet manifests groveling and mean dispositions, will be worthy of much greater punishment. мая I never have to suspect this of you. For we trust in the Lord that you have winged your souls for heaven, that you have removed from earth, that being in the world you handle not the things of the world; yet though so persuaded, we do not cease thus continually to exhort you. In the games of the heathen, they whom all the spectators encourage are not those who have fallen and lie supine, but those who are exerting themselves and running still; of the others, (since they would be doing what would be of no use, and would not be able to raise up by their encouragements men once for all severed from victory,) they cease to take any notice. But in this case some good мая be expected, not only of you who are sober, but even of those who have fallen, if they would but be converted. Wherefore we use every means, exhorting, reproving, encouraging, praising, in order that we мая bring about your salvation. Be not then offended by our continual admonishing concerning the Christian conversation, for the words are not the words of one accusing you of sloth, but of one who has very excellent hopes respecting you. And not to you alone, but to ourselves who speak them, are these words said, yea, and shall be said, for we too need the same teaching; so though they be spoken by us, yet nothing hinders their being spoken to us, (for the Word, when it finds a man in fault, amends him, when clear and free, sets him as far off from it as possible,) and we ourselves are not pure from transgressions. The course of healing is the same for all, the medicines are set forth for all, only the application is not the same, but is made according to the choice of those who use the medicines; for one who will handle the remedy as he ought, gains some benefit from the application, while he who does not place it upon the wound, makes the evil greater, and brings it to the most painful end. Let us then not fret when we are being healed, but much rather rejoice, even though the system of discipline bring bitter pains, for hereafter it will show to us fruit sweeter than any. Let us then do all to this end, that we мая depart to that world, cleared of the wounds and strokes which the teeth of sin make in the soul, so that having become worthy to behold the countenance of Christ, we мая be delivered in that day, not to the avenging and cruel powers, but to those who are able to bring us to that inheritance of the heavens which is prepared for them that love Him; to which мая it come to pass that we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 15 on the Gospel of John

John 1:18

No man has seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

1. God will not have us listen to the words and sentences contained in the Scriptures carelessly, but with much attention. This is why the blessed David has prefixed in many places to his Psalms the title for understanding, and has said, Open Thou my eyes, that I мая behold wondrous things out of Your Law. Psalm 32:42, etc.; Psalm 119:18 And after him his son again shows that we ought to seek out wisdom as silver, and to make merchandise of her rather than of gold. Proverbs 2:4 and 3:14 [partially quoted]; John 5:39 And the Lord when He exhorts the Jews to search the Scriptures, the more urges us to the enquiry, for He would not thus have spoken if it were possible to comprehend them immediately at the first reading. No one would ever search for what is obvious and at hand, but for that which is wrapt in shadow, and which must be found after much enquiry; and so to arouse us to the search He calls them hidden treasure. Proverbs 2:4; Matthew 13:44 These words are said to us that we мая not apply ourselves to the words of the Scriptures carelessly or in a chance way, but with great exactness. For if any one listen to what is said in them without enquiring into the meaning, and receive all so as it is spoken, according to the letter, he will suppose many unseemly things of God, will admit of Him that He is a man, that He is made of brass, is wrathful, is furious, and many opinions yet worse than these. But if he fully learn the sense that lies beneath, he will be freed from all this unseemliness. Revelation 1:15 The very text which now lies before us says, that God has a bosom, a thing proper to bodily substances, yet no one is so insane as to imagine, that He who is without body is a body. In order then that we мая properly interpret the entire passage according to its spiritual meaning, let us search it through from its beginning.

No man has seen God at any time. By what connection of thought does the Apostle come to say this? After showing the exceeding greatness of the gifts of Christ, and the infinite difference between them and those ministered by Moses, he would add the reasonable cause of the difference. Moses, as being a servant, was minister of lower things, but Christ being Lord and King, and the King's Son, brought to us things far greater, being ever with the Father, and beholding Him continually; wherefore He says, No man has seen God at any time. What then shall we answer to the most mighty of voice, Esaias, when he says, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up Isaiah 6:1; and to John himself testifying of Him, that he said these things when he had seen His glory? John 12:41 What also to Ezekiel? For he too beheld Him sitting above the Cherubim. Ezekiel 1 and 10 What to Daniel? For he too says, The Ancient of days did sit Daniel 7:9 What to Moses himself, saying, Show me Your Glory, that I мая see You so as to know You. Exodus 33:13, partly from Septuagint And Jacob took his name from this very thing, being called Israel; for Israel is one that sees God. And others have seen him. How then says John, No man has seen God at any time? It is to declare, that all these were instances of (His) condescension, not the vision of the Essence itself unveiled. For had they seen the very Nature, they would not have beheld It under different forms, since that is simple, without form, or parts, or bounding lines. It sits not, nor stands, nor walks: these things belong all to bodies. But how He Is, He only knows. And this He has declared by a certain prophet, saying, I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes by the hands of the prophets Hosea 12:10, that is, I have condescended, I have not appeared as I really was. For since His Son was about to appear in very flesh, He prepared them from old time to behold the substance of God, as far as it was possible for them to see It; but what God really is, not only have not the prophets seen, but not even angels nor archangels. If you ask them, you shall not hear them answering anything concerning His Essence, but sending up, Glory to God in the Highest, on earth peace, good will towards men. Luke 2:14 If you desire to learn something from Cherubim or Seraphim, you shall hear the mystic song of His Holiness, and that heaven and earth are full of His glory. Isaiah 6:3 If you enquire of the higher powers, you shall but find that their one work is the praise of God. Praise Him, says David, all His hosts. Psalm 148:2 But the Son only Beholds Him, and the Holy Ghost. How can any created nature even see the Uncreated? If we are absolutely unable clearly to discern any incorporeal power whatsoever, even though created, as has been often proved in the case of angels, much less can we discern the Essence which is incorporeal and uncreated. Wherefore Paul says, Whom no man has seen, nor can see. 1 Timothy 6:16 Does then this special attribute belong to the Father only, not to the Son? Away with the thought. It belongs also to the Son; and to show that it does so, hear Paul declaring this point, and saying, that He is the Image of the invisible God. Colossians 1:15 Now if He be the Image of the Invisible, He must be invisible Himself, for otherwise He would not be an image. And wonder not that Paul says in another place, God was manifested in the Flesh 1 Timothy 3:16; because the manifestation took place by means of the flesh, not according to (His) Essence. Besides, Paul shows that He is invisible, not only to men, but also to the powers above, for after saying, was manifested in the Flesh, he adds, was seen of angels.

2. So that even to angels He then became visible, when He put on the Flesh; but before that time they did not so behold Him, because even to them His Essence was invisible.

How then, asks some one, did Christ say, 'Despise not one of these little ones, for I tell you, that their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven'? Matthew 18:10 Hath then God a face, and is He bounded by the heavens? Who so mad as to assert this? What then is the meaning of the words? As when He says, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God Matthew 5:8, He means that intellectual vision which is possible to us, and the having God in the thoughts; so in the case of angels, we must understand that by reason of their pure and sleepless nature they do nothing else, but always image to themselves God. And therefore Christ says, that No man knows the Father, save the Son. Matthew 10:27 What then, are we all in ignorance? God forbid; but none knows Him as the Son knows Him. As then many have seen Him in the mode of vision permitted to them, but no one has beheld His Essence, so many of us know God, but what His substance can be none knows, save only He that was begotten of Him. For by knowledge He here means an exact idea and comprehension, such as the Father has of the Son. As the Father knows Me, even so know I the Father. John 10:15

Observe, therefore, with what fullness the Evangelist speaks; for having said that no man has seen God at any time, he does not go on to say, that the Son who has seen, has declared Him, but adds something beyond seeing by the words, Who is in the bosom of the Father; because, to dwell in the bosom is far more than to see. For he that merely sees has not an in every way exact knowledge of the object, but he that dwells in the bosom can be ignorant of nothing. Now lest when you hear that none knows the Father, save the Son, you should assert that although He knows the Father more than all, yet He knows not how great He is, the Evangelist says that He dwells in the bosom of the Father; and Christ Himself declares, that He knows Him as much as the Father knows the Son. Ask therefore the gainsayer, Tell me, does the Father know the Son? And if he be not mad, he will certainly answer Yes. Then ask again; Does He see and know Him with exact vision and knowledge? Does He know clearly what He Is? He will certainly confess this also. From this next collect the exact comprehension the Son has of the Father. For He says, As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father John 10:15; and in another place, Not that any man has seen the Father, save He which is of God. John 6:46 Wherefore, as I said, the Evangelist mentions the bosom, to show all this to us by that one word; that great is the affinity and nearness of the Essence, that the knowledge is nowise different, that the power is equal. For the Father would not have in His bosom one of another essence, nor would He have dared, had He been one among many servants, to live in the bosom of his Lord, for this belongs only to a true Son, to one who has much confidence towards His Father, and who is in nothing inferior to Him.

Would you learn also His eternity? Hear what Moses says concerning the Father. When he asked what he was commanded to answer should the Jews enquire of him, Who it was that had sent him, he heard these words: Say, I AM has sent me. Exodus 3:14 Now the expression I AM, is significative of Being ever, and Being without beginning, of Being really and absolutely. And this also the expression, Was in the beginning, declares, being indicative of Being ever; so that John uses this word to show that the Son Is from everlasting to everlasting in the bosom of the Father. For that you мая not from the sameness of name, suppose that He is some one of those who are made sons by grace, first, the article is added, distinguishing Him from those by grace. But if this does not content you, if you still look earthwards, hear a name more absolute than this, Only-Begotten. If even after this you still look below, I will not refuse, says he, (St. John,) to apply to God a term belonging to man, I mean the word 'bosom,' only suspect nothing degrading. Do you see the lovingkindness and carefulness of the Lord? God applies to Himself unworthy expressions, that even so you мая see through them, and have some great and lofty thought of Him; and do you tarry below? For tell me, wherefore is that gross and carnal word bosom employed in this place? Is it that we мая suppose God to be a body? Away, he by no means says so. Why then is it spoken? For if by it neither the genuineness of the Son is established, nor that God is not a body, the word, because it serves no purpose, is superfluously thrown in. Why then is it spoken? For I shall not desist from asking you this question. Is it not very plain, that it is for no other reason but that by it we might understand the genuineness of the Only-Begotten, and His Co-eternity with the Father?

3. He has declared Him, says John. What has he declared? That no man has seen God at any time? That God is one? But this all the other prophets testify, and Moses continually exclaims, The Lord your God is one Lord Deuteronomy 6:4; and Esaias, Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. Isaiah 43:10 What more then have we learned from the Son which is in the bosom of the Father? What from the Only-Begotten? In the first place, these very words were uttered by His working; in the next place, we have received a teaching that is far clearer, and learned that God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth John 4:24; and again, that it is impossible to see God; that no man knows Him, save the Son Matthew 11:27; that He is the Father of the true and Only-Begotten; and all other things that are told us of Him. But the word has declared shows the plainer and clearer teaching which He gave not to the Jews only but to all the world, and established. To the prophets not even all the Jews gave heed, but to the Only-Begotten Son of God all the world yielded and obeyed. So the declaration in this place shows the greater clearness of His teaching, and therefore also He is called Word, and Angel of great Counsel.

Since then we have been vouchsafed a larger and more perfect teaching, God having no longer spoken by the prophets, but having in these last days spoken to us by His Son Hebrews 1:1, let us show forth a conversation far higher than theirs, and suitable to the honor bestowed on us. Strange would it be that He should have so far lowered Himself, as to choose to speak to us no longer by His servants, but by His own mouth, and yet we should show forth nothing more than those of old. They had Moses for their teacher, we, Moses' Lord. Let us then exhibit a heavenly wisdom worthy of this honor, and let us have nothing to do with earth. It was for this that He brought His teaching from heaven above, that He might remove our thoughts there, that we might be imitators of our Teacher according to our power. But how мая we become imitators of Christ? By acting in everything for the common good, and not merely seeking our own. For even Christ, says Paul, pleased not Himself, but as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached You fell on Me. Romans 15:3; Psalm 69:9 Let no one therefore seek his own. In truth, a man (really) seeks his own good when he looks to that of his neighbor. What is their good is ours; we are one body, and parts and limbs one of another. Let us not then be as though we were rent asunder. Let no one say, such a person is no friend of mine, nor relation, nor neighbor, I have nought to do with him, how shall I approach, how address him? Though he be neither relation nor friend, yet he is a man, who shares the same nature with you, owns the same Lord, is your fellow-servant, and fellow-sojourner, for he is born in the same world. And if besides he partakes of the same faith, behold he has also become a member of you: for what friendship could work such union, as the relationship of faith? And our intimacy one with another must not be such nearness only as friends ought to show to friends, but such as is between limb and limb, because no man can possibly discover any intimacy greater than this sort of friendship and fellowship. As then you cannot say, Whence arises my intimacy and connection with this limb? (that would be ridiculous;) so neither can you say so in the case of your brother. We are all baptized into one body 1Corinthians 12:13, says Paul. Wherefore into one body? That we be not rent asunder, but preserve the just proportions of that one body by our intercourse and friendship one with another.

Let us not then despise one another, lest we be neglectful of ourselves. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it. Ephesians 5:29 And therefore God has given to us but one habitation, this earth, has distributed all things equally, has lighted one sun for us all, has spread above us one roof, the sky, made one table, the earth, bear food for us. And another table has He given far better than this, yet that too is one, (those who share our mysteries understand my words,) one manner of birth He has bestowed on all, the spiritual, we all have one country, that in the heavens, of the same cup drink we all. He has not bestowed on the rich man a gift more abundant and more honorable, and on the poor one more mean and small, but He has called all alike. He has given carnal things with equal regard to all, and spiritual in like manner. Whence then proceeds the great inequality of conditions in life? From the avarice and pride of the wealthy. But let not, brethren, let not this any longer be; and when matters of universal interest and more pressing necessity bring us together, let us not be divided by things earthly and insignificant: I mean, by wealth and poverty, by bodily relationship, by enmity and friendship; for all these things are a shadow, nay less substantial than a shadow, to those who possess the bond of charity from above. Let us then preserve this unbroken, and none of those evil spirits will be able to enter in, who cause division in so perfect union; to which мая we all attain by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 16 on the Gospel of John

John 1:19

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?

1. A dreadful thing is envy, beloved, a dreadful thing and a pernicious, to the enviers, not to the envied. For it harms and wastes them first, like some mortal venom deeply seated in their souls; and if by chance it injure its objects, the harm it does is small and trifling, and such as brings greater gain than loss. Indeed not in the case of envy only, but in every other, it is not he that has suffered, but he that has done the wrong, who receives injury. For had not this been so, Paul would not have enjoined the disciples rather to endure wrong than to inflict it, when he says, Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 1Corinthians 6:7 Well he knew, that destruction ever follows, not the injured party, but the injuring. All this I have said, by reason of the envy of the Jews. Because those who had flocked from the cities to John, and had condemned their own sins, and caused themselves to be baptized, repenting as it were after Baptism, send to ask him, Who are you? Of a truth they were the offspring of vipers, serpents, and even worse if possible than this. O evil and adulterous and perverse generation, after having been baptized, do you then become vainly curious, and question about the Baptist? What folly can be greater than this of yours? How was it that you came forth? That you confessed your sins, that you ran to the Baptist? How was it that you asked him what you must do? When in all this you were acting unreasonably, since you knew not the principle and purpose of his coming. Yet of this the blessed John said nothing, nor does he charge or reproach them with it, but answers them with all gentleness.

It is worth while to learn why he did thus. It was, that their wickedness might be manifest and plain to all men. Often did John testify of Christ to the Jews, and when he baptized them he continually made mention of Him to his company, and said, I indeed baptize you with water, but there comes One after me who is mightier than I; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Matthew 3:11 With regard to him they were affected by a human feeling; for, tremblingly attentive to the opinion of the world, and looking to the outward appearance 2Corinthians 10:7, they deemed it an unworthy thing that he should be subject to Christ. Since there were many things that pointed out John for an illustrious person. In the first place, his distinguished and noble descent; for he was the son of a chief priest. Then his conversation, his austere mode of life, his contempt of all human things; for despising dress and table, and house and food itself, he had passed his former time in the desert. In the case of Christ all was the contrary of this. His family was mean, (as they often objected to Him, saying, Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren James and Joses?) Matthew 13:55; and that which was supposed to be His country was held in such evil repute, that even Nathanael said, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? John 1:46 His mode of living was ordinary, and His garments not better than those of the many. For He was not girt with a leathern girdle, nor was His raiment of hair, nor did He eat honey and locusts. But He fared like all others, and was present at the feasts of wicked men and publicans, that He might draw them to Him. Which thing the Jews not understanding reproached Him with, as He also says Himself, The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. Matthew 11:19 When then John continually sent them from himself to Jesus, who seemed to them a meaner person, being ashamed and vexed at this, and wishing rather to have him for their teacher, they did not dare to say so plainly, but send to him, thinking by their flattery to induce him to confess that he was the Christ. They do not therefore send to him mean men, as in the case of Christ, for when they wished to lay hold on Him, they sent servants, and then Herodians, and the like, but in this instance, priests and Levites, and not merely priests, but those from Jerusalem, that is, the more honorable; for the Evangelist did not notice this without a cause. And they send to ask, Who are you? Yet the manner of his birth was well known to all, so that all said, What manner of child shall this be? Luke 1:66; and the report had gone forth into all the hill country. And afterwards when he came to Jordan, all the cities were set on the wing, and came to him from Jerusalem, and from all Judæa, to be baptized. Why then do they now ask? Not because they did not know him, (how could that be, when he had been made manifest in so many ways?) but because they wished to bring him to do that which I have mentioned.

2. Hear then how this blessed person answered to the intention with which they asked the question, not to the question itself. When they said, Who are you? he did not at once give them what would have been the direct answer, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. But what did he? He removed the suspicion they had formed; for, says the Evangelist, being asked, Who are you?

John 1:20

He confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

Observe the wisdom of the Evangelist. He mentions this for the third time, to set forth the excellency of the Baptist, and their wickedness and folly. And Luke also says, that when the multitudes supposed him to be the Christ, he again removes their suspicion. This is the part of an honest servant, not only not to take to himself his master's honor, but also to reject it when given to him by the many. But the multitudes arrived at this supposition from simplicity and ignorance; these questioned him from an ill intention, which I have mentioned, expecting, as I said, to draw him over to their purpose by their flattery. Had they not expected this, they would not have proceeded immediately to another question, but would have been angry with him for having given them an answer foreign to their enquiry, and would have said, Why, did we suppose that? Did we come to ask you that? But now as taken and detected in the fact, they proceed to another question, and say,

John 1:21

What then? Are you Elias? And he says, I am not.

For they expected that Elias also would come, as Christ declares; for when His disciples enquired, How then do the scribes say that Elias must first come? Matthew 17:10 He replied, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. Then they ask, Are you that prophet? And he answered, No. Matthew 17:10 Yet surely he was a prophet. Wherefore then does he deny it? Because again he looks to the intention of his questioners. For they expected that some special prophet should come, because Moses said, The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet of your brethren like me, unto Him shall you harken. Deuteronomy 18:15 Now this was Christ. Wherefore they do not say, Are you a prophet? meaning thereby one of the ordinary prophets; but the expression, Are you the prophet? with the addition of the article, means, Are you that Prophet who was foretold by Moses? and therefore he denied not that he was a prophet, but that he was that Prophet.

John 1:22

Then said they unto him, Who are you? That we мая give an answer to them that sent us. What do you say of yourself?

Observe them pressing him more vehemently, urging him, repeating their questions, and not desisting; while he first kindly removes false opinions concerning himself, and then sets before them one which is true. For, says he,

John 1:23

I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

When he had spoken some high and lofty words concerning Christ, as if (replying) to their opinion, he immediately betook himself to the Prophet to draw from thence confirmation of his assertion.

John 1:24–25

And [says the Evangelist] they who were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him, Why do you baptize then, if you be not that Christ, neither Elias, neither that Prophet?

Do you see not without reason I said that they wished to bring him to this? And the reason why they did not at first say so was, lest they should be detected by all men. And then when he said, I am not the Christ, they, being desirous to conceal what they were plotting within, go on to Elias, and that Prophet. But when he said that he was not one of these either, after that, in their perplexity, they cast aside the mask, and without any disguise show clearly their treacherous intention, saying, Why do you baptize then, if you be not that Christ? And then again, wishing to throw some obscurity over the thing, «seest thou how, disguising what they had, they add."}--> they add the others also, Elias, and that Prophet. For when they were not able to trip him by their flattery, they thought that by an accusation they could compel him to say the thing that was not.

What folly, what insolence, what ill-timed officiousness! You were sent to learn who and whence he might be, not to lay down laws for him also. This too was the conduct of men who would compel him to confess himself to be the Christ. Still not even now is he angry, nor does he, as might have been expected, say to them anything of this sort, Do you give orders and make laws for me? but again shows great gentleness towards them.

John 1:26–27

I baptize with water: but there stands one among you, whom you know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

3. What could the Jews have left to say to this? For even from this the accusation against them cannot be evaded, the decision against them admits not of pardon, they have given sentence against themselves. How? In what way? They deemed John worthy of credit, and so truthful, that they might believe him not only when he testified of others, but also when he spoke concerning himself. For had they not been so disposed, they would not have sent to learn from him what related to himself. Because you know that the only persons whom we believe, especially when speaking of themselves, are those whom we suppose to be more veracious than any others. And it is not this alone which closes their mouths, but also the disposition with which they had approached him; for they came forth to him at first with great eagerness, even though afterwards they altered. Both which things Christ declared, when He said, He was a burning (and a shining) light, and you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. Moreover, his answer made him yet more worthy of credit. For (Christ) says, He that seeks not his own glory, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. Now this man sought it not, but refers the Jews to another. And those who were sent were of the most trustworthy among them, and of the highest rank, so that they could have in no way any refuge or excuse, for the unbelief which they exhibited towards Christ. Wherefore did you not receive the things spoken concerning Him by John? You sent men who held the first rank among you, you enquired by them, you heard what the Baptist answered, they manifested all possible officiousness, sought into every point, named all the persons you suspected him to be; and yet most publicly and plainly he confessed that he was neither Christ, nor Elias nor that Prophet. Nor did he stop even there, but also informed them who he was, and spoke of the nature of his own baptism, that it was but a slight and mean thing, nothing more than some water, and told of the superiority of the Baptism given by Christ; he also cited Esaias the prophet, testifying of old very long ago, and calling Christ Lord Isaiah 40:3, but giving him the names of minister and servant. What after this ought they to have done? Ought they not to have believed on Him who was witnessed of, to have worshipped Him, to have confessed Him to be God? For the character and heavenly wisdom of the witness showed that his testimony proceeded, not from flattery, but from truth; which is plain also from this, that no man prefers his neighbor to himself, nor, when he мая lawfully give honor to himself, will yield it up to another, especially when it is so great as that of which we speak. So that John would not have renounced this testimony (as belonging) to Christ, had He not been God. For though he might have rejected it for himself as being too great for his own nature, yet he would not have assigned it to another nature that was beneath it.

But there stands One among you, whom you know not. Reasonable it was that Christ should mingle among the people as one of the many, because everywhere He taught men not to be puffed up and boastful. And in this place by knowledge the Baptist means a perfect acquaintance with Him, who and whence He was. And immediately next to this he puts, Who comes after me; all but saying, Think not that all is contained in my baptism, for had that been perfect, Another would not have arisen after me to offer you a different One, but this of mine is a preparation and a clearing the way for that other. Mine is but a shadow and image, but One must come who shall add to this the reality. So that His very coming 'after me' especially declares His dignity: for had the first been perfect, no place would have been required for a second. Is before me, is more honorable, brighter. And then, lest they should imagine that His superiority was found by comparison, desiring to establish His incomparableness, he says, Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose; that is, who is not simply before me, but before me in such a way, that I am not worthy to be numbered among the meanest of His servants. For to loose the shoe is the office of humblest service.

Now if John was not worthy to unloose the latchet Matthew 11:11, John, than whom among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater, where shall we rank ourselves? If he who was equal to, or rather greater than, all the world, (for says Paul, the world was not worthy of them Hebrews 11:38 declares himself not worthy to be reckoned even among the meanest of those who should minister unto Him, what shall we say, who are full of ten thousand sins, and are as far from the excellence of John, as earth from heaven.

4. He then says that he himself is not worthy so much as to unloose the latchet of His shoe; while the enemies of the truth are mad with such a madness, as to assert that they are worthy to know Him even as He knows Himself. What is worse than such insanity, what more frenzied than such arrogance? Well has a wise man said, The beginning of pride is not to know the Lord.

The devil would not have been brought down and become a devil, not being a devil before, had he not been sick of this disease. This it was that cast him out from that confidence, this sent him to the pit of fire, this was the cause of all his woes. For it is enough of itself to destroy every excellence of the soul, whether it find almsgiving, or prayer, or fasting, or anything. For, says the Evangelist, That which is highly esteemed among men is impure before the Lord. Luke 16:15 – not quoted exactly Therefore it is not only fornication or adultery that are wont to defile those who practice them, but pride also, and that far more than those vices. Why? Because fornication though it is an unpardonable sin, yet a man мая plead the desire; but pride cannot possibly find any cause or pretext of any sort whatever by which to obtain so much as a shadow of excuse; it is nothing but a distortion and most grievous disease of the soul, produced from no other source but folly. For there is nothing more foolish than a proud man, though he be surrounded with wealth, though he possess much of the wisdom of this world, though he be set in royal place, though he bear about with all things that among men appear desirable.

For if the man who is proud of things really good is wretched and miserable, and loses the reward of all those things, must not he who is exalted by things that are nought, and puffs himself up because of a shadow or the flower of the grass, (for such is this world's glory,) be more ridiculous than any, when he does just as some poor needy man might do, pining all his time with hunger, yet if ever he should chance one night to see a dream of good fortune, filled with conceit because of it?

O wretched and miserable! When your soul is perishing by a most grievous disease, when you are poor with utter poverty, are you high-minded because you have such and such a number of talents of gold? Because you have a multitude of slaves and cattle? Yet these are not yours; and if you dost not believe my words, learn from the experience of those who have gone before you. And if you are so drunken, that you can not be instructed even from what has befallen others, wait a little, and you shall know by what befalls yourself that these things avail you nothing, when gasping for life, and master not of a single hour, not even of a little moment, you shall unwillingly leave them to those who are about you, and these perhaps those whom you would not. For many have not been permitted even to give directions concerning them, but have departed suddenly, desiring to enjoy them, but not permitted, dragged from them, and forced to yield them up to others, giving place by compulsion to those to whom they would not. That this be not our case, let us, while we are yet in strength and health, send forward our riches hence to our own city, for thus only and in no other way shall we be able to enjoy them; so shall we lay them up in a place inviolate and safe. For there is nothing, there is nothing there that can take them from us; no death, no attested wills, no successors to inheritances, no false informations, no plottings against us, but he who has departed hence bearing away great wealth with him мая enjoy it there forever. Who then is so wretched as not to desire to revel in riches which are his own throughout? Let us then transfer our wealth, and remove it there. We shall not need for such a removal asses, or camels, or carriages, or ships, (God has relieved even us from this difficulty,) but we only want the poor, the lame, the crippled, the infirm. These are entrusted with this transfer, these convey our riches to heaven, these introduce the masters of such wealth as this to the inheritance of goods everlasting. Which мая it be that we all attain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 17 on the Gospel of John

John 1:28–29

These things were done in Bethany beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he sees Jesus coming unto him, and says, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.

1. A great virtue is boldness and freedom of speech, and the making all things second in importance to the confessing of Christ; so great and admirable, that the Only-begotten Son of God proclaims such an one in the presence of the Father. Luke 12:8 Yet the recompense is more than just, for you confess upon earth, He in heaven, thou in the presence of men, He before the Father and all the angels.

Such an one was John, who regarded not the multitude, nor opinion, nor anything else belonging to men, but trod all this beneath his feet, and proclaimed to all with becoming freedom the things respecting Christ. And therefore the Evangelist marks the very place, to show the boldness of the loud-voiced herald. For it was not in a house, not in a corner, not in the wilderness, but in the midst of the multitude, after that he had occupied Jordan, when all that were baptized by him were present, (for the Jews came upon him as he was baptizing,) there it was that he proclaimed aloud that wonderful confession concerning Christ, full of those sublime and great and mysterious doctrines, and that he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe. Wherefore he says, These things were done in Bethany, or, as all the more correct copies have it, in Bethabara. For Bethany was not beyond Jordan, nor bordering on the wilderness, but somewhere near to Jerusalem.

He marks the places also for another reason. Since he was not about to relate matters of old date, but such as had come to pass but a little time before, he makes those who were present and had beheld, witnesses of his words, and supplies proof from the places themselves. For confident that nothing was added by himself to what was said, but that he simply and with truth described things as they were, he draws a testimony from the places, which, as I said, would be no common demonstration of his veracity.

The next day he sees Jesus coming to him, and says, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.

The Evangelists distributed the periods among them; and Matthew having cut short his notice of the time before John the Baptist was bound, hastens to that which follows, while the Evangelist John not only does not cut short this period, but dwells most on it. Matthew, after the return of Jesus from the wilderness, saying nothing of the intermediate circumstances, as what John spoke, and what the Jews sent and said, and having cut short all the rest, passes immediately to the prison. For, says he, Jesus having heard that John was betrayed, departed thence. Matthew 14:13 But John does not so. He is silent as to the journey into the wilderness, as having been described by Matthew; but he relates what followed the descent from the mountain, and after having gone through many circumstances, adds, For John was not yet cast into prison. John 3:24

And wherefore, says one, does Jesus now come to him? Why does he come not merely once, but this second time also? For Matthew says that His coming was necessary on account of Baptism: since Jesus adds, that thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Matthew 3:15 But John says that He came again after Baptism, and declares it in this place, for, I saw, says he, the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and It abode upon Him. Wherefore then did He come to John? For He came not casually, but went expressly to him. John, says the Evangelist, sees Jesus coming unto him. Then wherefore comes He? In order that since John had baptized Him with many (others), no one might suppose that He had hastened to John for the same reason as the rest to confess sins, and to wash in the river unto repentance. For this He comes, to give John an opportunity of setting this opinion right again, for by saying, Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world, he removes the whole suspicion. For very plain it is that One so pure as to be able to wash away the sins of others, does not come to confess sins, but to give opportunity to that marvelous herald to impress what he had said more definitely on those who had heard his former words, and to add others besides. The word Behold is used, because many had been seeking Him by reason of what had been said, and for a long time. For this cause, pointing Him out when present, he said, Behold, this is He so long sought, this is the Lamb. He calls Him Lamb, to remind the Jews of the prophecy of Isaiah, and of the shadow under the law of Moses, that he мая the better lead them from the type to the reality. That Lamb of Moses took not at once away the sin of any one; but this took away the sin of all the world; for when it was in danger of perishing, He quickly delivered it from the wrath of God.

John 1:30

This is He of whom I said, He that comes after me is preferred before me.

2. Do you see here also how he interprets the word before? For having called Him Lamb, and that He takes away the sin of the world, then he says that He is preferred before me, for He was before me; declaring that this is the before, the taking upon Him the sins of the world, and the baptizing with the Holy Ghost. For my coming had no farther object than to proclaim the common Benefactor of the world, and to afford the baptism of water; but His was to cleanse all men, and to give them the power of the Comforter. He is preferred before me, that is to say, has appeared brighter than I, because He was before me. Let those who have admitted the madness of Paul of Samosata be ashamed when they withstand so manifest a truth.

John 1:31

And I knew Him not.

Here he renders his testimony free from suspicion, by showing that it was not from human friendship, but had been caused by divine revelation. I knew Him not, he says. How then could you be a trustworthy witness? How shall you teach others, while you yourself art ignorant? He did not say I know Him not, but, I knew Him not; so that in this way he would be shown most trustworthy; for why should he have shown favor to one of whom he was ignorant?

But that He should be made manifest unto Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

He then did not need baptism, nor had that laver any other object than to prepare for all others a way to faith on Christ. For he did not say, that I might cleanse those who are baptized, or, that I might deliver them from their sins, but, that He should be made manifest unto lsrael. And why, tell me, could he not without baptism have preached and brought the multitudes to Him? But in this way it would not have been by any means easy. For they would not so all have run together, if the preaching had been without the baptism; they would not by the comparison have learned His superiority. For the multitude came together not to hear his words, but for what? To be baptized, confessing their sins. But when they came, they were taught the matters concerning Christ, and the difference of His baptism. Yet even this of John was of greater dignity than the Jewish, and therefore all ran to it; yet even so it was imperfect.

How then did you know Him? By the descent of the Spirit, he says. But again, lest any one should suppose that he was in need of the Spirit as we are, hear how he removes the suspicion, by showing that the descent of the Spirit was only to declare Christ. For having said, And I knew Him not, he adds, But He that sent me to baptize with water the Same said to me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost. John 1:33

Do you see that this was the work of the Spirit, to point out Christ? The testimony of John was indeed not to be suspected, but wishing to make it yet more credible, he leads it up to God and the Holy Spirit. For when John had testified to a thing so great and wonderful, so fit to astonish all his hearers, that He alone took on Him the sins of all the world, and that the greatness of the gift sufficed for so great a ransom, afterwards he proves this assertion. And the proof is that He is the Son of God, and that He needed not baptism, and that the object of the descent of the Spirit was only to make Him known. For it was not in the power of John to give the Spirit, as those who were baptized by him show when they say, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. Acts 19:2 In truth, Christ needed not baptism, neither his nor any other; but rather baptism needed the power of Christ. For that which was wanting was the crowning blessing of all, that he who was baptized should be deemed worthy of the Spirit; this free gift then of the Spirit He added when He came.

John 1:32–34

And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from the heaven like a dove, and It abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the Same said to me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

He puts the I knew Him not repeatedly. On what account, and wherefore? He was His kinsman according to the flesh. Behold, says the angel, your cousin Elisabeth, she also has received a son. Luke 1:36 That therefore he might not seem to favor Him because of the relationship, he repeats the I knew Him not. And this happened with good reason; for he had passed all his time in the wilderness away from his father's house.

How then, if he knew Him not before the descent of the Spirit, and if he then for the first time recognized Him, did he forbid Him before baptism, saying, I have need to be baptized by You, and You come to me? Matthew 3:14, since this was a proof that he knew Him very well. Yet he knew Him not before or for a long time, and with good cause; for the marvels which took place when He was a child, as the circumstances of the Magi and others the like, had happened long before, while John himself was very young, and since much time had elapsed in the interval, He was naturally unknown to all. For had He been known, John would not have said, That He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing.

3. Hence it remains clear to us, that the miracles which they say belong to Christ's childhood, are false, and the inventions of certain who bring them into notice. For if He had begun from His early age to work wonders, neither could John have been ignorant of Him, nor would the multitude have needed a teacher to make Him known. But now he says, that for this he has come, that He might be made manifest to Israel; and for this reason he said again, I have need to be baptized by You. Afterwards, as having gained more exact knowledge of Him, he proclaimed Him to the multitude, saying, This is He of whom I said, After me comes a Man which is preferred before me. For He who sent me to baptize with water, and sent me for this end, that He should be made manifest to Israel, Himself revealed Him even before the descent of the Spirit. Wherefore even before He came, John said, One comes after me who is preferred before me. He knew Him not before he came to Jordan and baptized all men, but when He was about to be baptized, then he knew Him; and this from the Father revealing Him to the Prophet, and the Spirit showing Him when He was being baptized to the Jews, for whose sake indeed the descent of the Spirit took place. For that the witness of John might not be despised who said, that He was before me, and that He baptizes with the Spirit, and that He judges the world, the Father utters a Voice proclaiming the Son, and the Spirit descends, directing that Voice to the Head of Jesus. For since one was baptizing, the other receiving baptism, the Spirit comes to correct the idea which some of those present might form, that the words were spoken of John. So that when he says, I knew Him not, he speaks of former time, not that near to His baptism. Otherwise how could he have forbidden Him, saying, I have need to be baptized by You? How could he have said such words concerning Him?

But, says one, how then did not the Jews believe? For it was not John only that saw the Spirit in the likeness of a dove. It was, because, even if they did see, such things require not only the eyes of the body, but more than these, the vision of the understanding, to prevent men from supposing the whole to be a vain illusion. For if when they saw Him working wonders, touching with His own hands the sick and the dead, and so bringing them back to life and health, they were so drunk with malice as to declare the contrary of what they saw; how could they shake off their unbelief by the descent of the Spirit only? And some say, that they did not all see it, but only John and those of them who were better disposed. Because even though it were possible with fleshly eyes to see the Spirit descending as in the likeness of a dove, still not for this was it absolutely necessary that the circumstance should be visible to all. For Zacharias saw many things in a sensible form, as did Daniel and Ezekiel, and had none to share in what they saw; Moses also saw many things such as none other has seen; nor did all the disciples enjoy the view of the Transfiguration on the mount, nor did they all alike behold Him at the time of the Resurrection. And this Luke plainly shows, when he says, that He showed Himself to witnesses chosen before of God. Acts 10:41

And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

Where did he bear record that this is the Son of God? he called Him indeed Lamb, and said that He should baptize with the Spirit, but nowhere did he say of Him, Son of God. But the other Evangelists do not write that He said anything after the baptism, but having been silent as to the time intervening, they mention the miracles of Christ which were done after John's captivity, whence we мая reasonably conjecture that these and many others are omitted. And this our Evangelist himself has declared, at the end of his narrative. For they were so far from inventing anything great concerning Him, that the things which seem to bring reproach, these they have all with one voice and with all exactness set down, and you will not find one of them omitting one of such circumstances; but of the miracles, part some have left for the others to relate, part all have passed over in silence.

I say not this without cause, but to answer the shamelessness of the heathen. For this is a sufficient proof of their truth-loving disposition, and that they say nothing for favor. And thus as well as in other ways you мая arm yourselves for trial of argument with them. But take heed. Strange were it that the physician, or the shoemaker, or the weaver, in short all artists, should be able each to contend correctly for his own art, but that one calling himself Christian should not be able to give a reason for his own faith; yet those things if overlooked bring only loss to men's property, these if neglected destroy our very souls. Yet such is our wretched disposition, that we give all our care to the former, and the things which are necessary, and which are the groundwork of our salvation, as though of little worth, we despise.

4. That it is which prevents the heathen from quickly deriding his own error. For when they, though established in a lie, use every means to conceal the shamefulness of their opinions, while we, the servants of the truth, cannot even open our mouths, how can they help condemning the great weakness of our doctrine? How can they help suspecting our religion to be fraud and folly? How shall they not blaspheme Christ as a deceiver, and a cheat, who used the folly of the many to further his fraud? And we are to blame for this blasphemy, because we will not be wakeful in arguments for godliness, but deem these things superfluous, and care only for the things of earth. He who admires a dancer or a charioteer, or one who contends with beasts, uses every exertion and contrivance not to come off worst in any disputes concerning him, and they string together long panegyrics, as they compose their defense against those who find fault with them, and cast sneers without number at their opponents: but when arguments for Christianity are proposed, they all hang their heads, and scratch themselves, and gape, and retire at length the objects of contempt.

Must not this deserve excessive wrath, when Christ is shown to be less honorable in your estimation than a dancer? Since you have contrived ten thousand defenses for the things they have done, though more disgraceful than any, but of the miracles of Christ, though they have drawn to Him the world, you cannot bear even to think or care at all. We believe in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in the Resurrection of bodies, and in Life everlasting. If now any heathen say, What is this Father, what this Son, what this Holy Ghost? How do you who say that there are three Gods, charge us with having many Gods? What will you say? What will you answer? How will you repel the attack of these arguments? But what if when you are silent, the unbeliever should again propose this other question, and ask, What in a word is resurrection? Shall we rise again in this body? Or in another, different from this? If in this, what need that it be dissolved? What will you answer? And what, if he say, Why did Christ come now and not in old time? Has it seemed good to Him now to care for men, and did He despise us during all the years that are past? Or if he ask other questions besides, more than these? For I must not propose many questions, and be silent as to the answers to them, lest, in so doing, I harm the simpler among you. What has been already said is sufficient to shake off your slumbers. Well then, if they ask these questions, and you absolutely cannot even listen to the words, shall we, tell me, suffer trifling punishment only, when we have been the cause of such error to those who sit in darkness? I wished, if you had sufficient leisure, to bring before you all the book of a certain impure heathen philosopher written against us, and that of another of earlier date, that so at least I might have roused you, and led you away from your exceeding slothfulness. For if they were wakeful that they might say these things against us, what pardon can we deserve, if we do not even know how to repel the attacks made upon us? For what purpose have we been brought forward? Do you not hear the Apostle say, Be ready to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you? 1 Peter 3:15 And Paul exhorts in like manner, saying, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16 What do they who are more slothful than drones reply to this? Blessed is every simple soul, and, he that walks simply walks surely. Proverbs 10:8 For this is the cause of all sorts of evil, that the many do not know how to apply rightly even the testimony of the Scriptures. Thus in this place, the writer does not mean (by simple) the man who is foolish, or who knows nothing, but him who is free from wickedness, who is no evil-doer, who is wise. If it were not so, it would have been useless to say, Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16 But why should I name these things, when the discourse comes in quite out of place? For besides the things already mentioned, other matters are not right with us, those, I mean, which concern our life and conversation. We are in every way wretched and ridiculous, ever ready to find fault with each other, but slow to correct in ourselves things for which we blame and accuse our neighbor. Wherefore I exhort you, that now at least we attend to ourselves, and stop not at the finding fault, (this is not enough to appease God;) but that we show forth a change in every way most excellent, in order that having lived here to the glory of God, we мая enjoy the glory to come; which мая it come to pass that we will all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 18 on the Gospel of John

John 1:35–37

Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he says, Behold the Lamb of God. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

1. The nature of man is somehow a thing slothful, and easily declining to perdition, not by reason of the constitution of the nature itself, but by reason of that sloth which is of deliberate choice. Wherefore it needs much reminding. And for this cause Paul, writing to the Philippians, said, To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Philippians 3:1

The earth when it has once received the seed, straightway gives forth its fruits, and needs not a second sowing; but with our souls it is not so, and one must be content, after having sown many times, and manifested much carefulness, to be able once to receive fruit. For in the first place, what is said settles in the mind with difficulty, because the ground is very hard, and entangled with thorns innumerable, and there are many which lay plots, and carry away the seed; afterwards, when it has been fixed and has taken root, it still needs the same attention, that it мая come to maturity, and having done so мая remain uninjured, and take no harm from any. For in the case of seeds, when the ear is fully formed and has gained its proper strength, it easily despises rust, and drought, and every other thing; but it is not so with doctrines; in their case after all the work has been fully done, one storm and flood often comes on, and either by the attack of unpleasant circumstances, or by the plots of men skilled to deceive, or by various other temptations brought against them, brings them to ruin.

I have not said this without cause, but that when you hear John repeating the same words, you мая not condemn him for vain talking; nor deem him impertinent or wearisome. He desired to have been heard by once speaking, but because not many gave heed to what was spoken from the first, by reason of deep sleep, he again rouses them by this second call. Now observe; he had said, He that comes after me, is preferred before me: and that I am not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe; and that He baptizes with the Holy Ghost, and with fire; and that he saw the Spirit descending like a dove, and it abode upon Him, and he bare record that this is the Son of God. No one gave heed, nor asked, nor said, Why do you say these things? In whose behalf? For what reason? Again he had said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world; yet not even so did he touch their insensibility. Therefore, after this he is compelled to repeat the same words again, as if softening by tillage some hard and stubborn soil, and by his word as by a plow, disturbing the mind which had hardened into clods, so as to put in the seed deep. For this reason he does not make his discourse a long one either; because he desired one thing only, to bring them over and join them to Christ. He knew that as soon as they had received this saying, and had been persuaded, they would not afterwards need one to bear witness unto Him. As also it came to pass. For, if the Samaritans could say to the woman after hearing Him, Now we believe, not because of your saying, for we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world, the disciples would be much more quickly subdued, as was the case. For when they had come and heard Him but one evening, they returned no more to John, but were so nailed to Him, that they took upon them the ministry of John, and themselves proclaimed Him. For, says the Evangelist, He finds his own brother Simon, and says unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And observe, I pray you, this, how, when he said, He that comes after me is preferred before me; and that, I am not worthy to unloose the lachet of His shoe; he caught no one, but when he spoke of the Dispensation, and lowered his discourse to a humbler tone, then the disciples followed Him.

And we мая remark this, not only in the instance of the disciples, but that the many are not so much attracted when some great and sublime thing is said concerning God, as when some act of graciousness and lovingkindness, something pertaining to the salvation of the hearers, is spoken of. They heard that He takes away the sin of the world, and straightway they ran to Him. For, said they, if it is possible to wash away the charges that lie against us, why do we delay? Here is One who will deliver us without labor of ours. Is it not extreme folly to put off accepting the Gift? Let those hear who are Catechumens, and are putting off their salvation to their latest breath.

Again, says the Evangelist, John stood, and says, Behold, the Lamb of God. Christ utters no word, His messenger says all. So it is with a bridegroom. He says not for a while anything to the bride, but is there in silence, while some show him to the bride, and others give her into his hands; she merely appears, and he departs not having taken her himself, but when he has received her from another who gives her to him. And when he has received her thus given, he so disposes her, that she no more remembers those who betrothed her. So it was with Christ. He came to join to Himself the Church; He said nothing, but merely came. It was His friend, John, who put into His the bride's right hand, when by his discourses he gave into His hand the souls of men. He having received them, afterwards so disposed them, that they departed no more to John who had committed them to Him.

2. And here we мая remark, not this only, but something besides. As at a marriage the maiden goes not to the bridegroom, but he hastens to her, though he be a king's son, and though he be about to espouse some poor and abject person, or even a servant, so it was here. Man's nature did not go up, but contemptible and poor as it was, He came to it, and when the marriage had taken place, He suffered it no longer to tarry here, but having taken it to Himself, transported it to the house of His Father.

Why then does not John take his disciples apart, and converse with them on these matters, and so deliver them over to Christ, instead of saying publicly to them in common with all the people, 'Behold the Lamb of God?'? That it мая not seem to be a matter of arrangement; for had they gone away from him to Christ after having been privately admonished by him, and as though to do him a favor, they would perhaps soon have started away again; but now, having taken upon them the following Him, from teaching which had been general, they afterwards remained His firm disciples, as not having followed Him in order to gratify the teacher, but as looking purely to their own advantage.

The Prophets and Apostles then all preached Him absent; the Prophets before His coming according to the flesh, the Apostles after He was taken up; John alone proclaimed Him present. Wherefore he calls himself the friend of the Bridegroom John 3:29, since he alone was present at the marriage, he it was that did and accomplished all, he made a beginning of the work. And looking upon Jesus walking, he says, Behold the Lamb of God. Not by voice alone, but with his eyes also he bore witness to, and expressed his admiration of, Christ, rejoicing and glorying. Nor does he for awhile address any word of exhortation to his followers, but only shows wonder and astonishment at Him who was present, and declares to all the Gift which He came to give, and the manner of purification. For the Lamb declares both these things. And he said not, Who shall take, or Who has taken; but, Who takes away the sins of the world; because this He ever does. He took them not then only when He suffered, but from that time even to the present does He take them away, not being repeatedly crucified, (for He offered One Sacrifice for sins,) but by that One continually purging them. As then The Word shows us His pre-eminence, and The Son His superiority in comparison with others, so The Lamb, The Christ, that Prophet, the True Light, the Good Shepherd, and whatever other names are applied to Him with the addition of the article, mark a great difference. For there were many Lambs, and Prophets, and Christs, and sons, but from all these John separates Him by a wide interval. And this he secured not by the article only, but by the addition of Only-Begotten; for He had nothing in common with the creation.

If it seems to any unseasonable that these things should be spoken at the tenth hour (that was the time of day, for he says, It was about the tenth hour – John 1:39, such an one seems to me to be much mistaken. In the case indeed of the many, and those who serve the flesh, the season after feasting is not very suitable for any matters of pressing moment, because their hearts are burdened with meats: but here was a man who did not even partake of common food, and who at evening was as sober as we are at morning, (or rather much more so; for often the remains of our evening food that are left within us, fill our souls with imaginations, but he loaded his vessel with none of these things;) he with good reason spoke late in the evening of these matters. Besides, he was tarrying in the wilderness by Jordan, where all came to his baptism with great fear, and caring little at that time for the things of this life; as also they continued with Christ three days, and had nothing to eat. Matthew 15:32 For this is the part of a zealous herald and a careful husbandman, not to desist before he see that the planted seed has got a firm hold. Why then did he not go about all the parts of Judæa preaching Christ, rather than stand by the river waiting for Him to come, that he might point Him out when He came? Because he wished that this should be effected by His works; his own object being in the mean time only to make Him known, and to persuade some to hear of eternal life. But to Him he leaves the greater testimony, that of works, as also He says, I receive not testimony of men. The works which My Father has given Me, the same bear witness of Me. c. v. 34, 36 Observe how much more effectual this was; for when he had thrown in a little spark, at once the blaze rose on high. For they who before had not even given heed to his words, afterwards say, All things which John spoke were true. John 10:41

3. Besides, if he had gone about saying these things, what was being done would have seemed to be done from some human motive, and the preaching to be full of suspicion.

And the two disciples heard him, and followed Jesus.

Yet John had other disciples, but they not only did not follow Jesus, but were even jealously disposed towards him. Rabbi, says one, He that was with you beyond Jordan, to whom you bore witness, behold, the same baptizes, and all men come unto him. John 3:26 And again they appear bringing a charge against him; Why do we fast, but your disciples fast not? Matthew 9:14 But those who were better than the rest had no such feeling, but heard, and at once followed; followed, not as despising their teacher, but as being most fully persuaded by him, and producing the strongest proof that they acted thus from a right judgment of his reasonings. For they did not do so by his advice, that might have appeared suspicious; but when he merely foretold what was to come to pass, that He should baptize with the Holy Ghost, [and with fire,] they followed. They did not then desert their teacher, but rather desired to learn what Christ brought with Him more than John. And observe zeal combined with modesty. They did not at once approach and question Jesus on necessary and most important matters, nor were they desirous to converse with Him publicly, while all were present, at once and in an off-hand manner, but privately; for they knew that the words of their teacher proceeded not from humility, but from truth.

John 1:40

One of the two who heard, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

Wherefore then has he not made known the name of the other also? Some say, because it was the writer himself that followed; others, not so, but that he was not one of the distinguished disciples; it behooved not therefore to say more than was necessary. For what would it have advantaged us to learn his name, when the writer does not mention the names even of the seventy-two? St. Paul also did the same. We have sent, says he, with him the brother, (who has often in many things been forward,) whose praise is in the Gospel. 2Corinthians 8:18 Moreover, he mentions Andrew for another reason. What is this? It is, that when you are informed that Simon having in company with him heard, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men Matthew 4:19, was not perplexed at so strange a promise, you мая learn that his brother had already laid down within him the beginnings of the faith.

John 1:38

Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and says unto them, What do you seek?

Hence we are taught, that God does not prevent our wills by His gifts, but that when we begin, when we provide the being willing, then He gives us many opportunities of salvation. What do you seek? How is this? He who knows the hearts of men, who dwells in our thoughts, does He ask? He does; not that He мая be informed; how could that be? But that by the question He мая make them more familiar, and impart to them greater boldness, and show them that they are worthy to hear Him; for it was probable that they would blush and be afraid, as being unknown to him, and as having heard such accounts of Him from the testimony of their teacher. Therefore to remove all this, their shame and their fear, he questions them, and would not let them come all the way to the house in silence. Yet the event would have been the same had He not questioned them; they would have remained by following Him, and walking in His steps would have reached His dwelling. Why then did He ask? To effect that which I said, to calm their minds, yet disturbed with shame and anxiety, and to give them confidence.

Nor was it by their following only that they showed their earnest desire, but by their question also: for when they had not as yet learned or even heard anything from Him, they call Him, Master; thrusting themselves as it were among His disciples, and declaring what was the cause of their following, that they might hear somewhat profitable. Observe their wisdom also. They did not say, Teach us of Your doctrines, or some other thing that we need to know; but what? Where dwellest Thou? Because, as I before said, they wished in quiet to say somewhat to Him, and to hear somewhat from Him, and to learn. Therefore they did not defer the matter, nor say, We will come tomorrow by all means, and hear you speak in public; but showed the great eagerness they had to hear Him, by not being turned back even by the hour, for the sun was already near its setting, (it was, says John, about the tenth hour.) And therefore Christ does not tell them the marks of His abode, nor its situation, but rather induces them to follow Him by showing them that He had accepted them. For this reason He did not say anything of this kind to them, It is an unseasonable time now for you to enter into the house, tomorrow you shall hear if you have any wish, return home now; but converses with them as with friends, and those who had long been with Him.

How then says He in another place, But the Son of Man has not where to lay His head Luke 9:58, while here He says, Come and see John 1:39 where I abide? Because the expression has not where to lay His head, signifies that He had no dwelling place of His own, not that He did not abide in a house. And this too is the meaning of the comparison. The Evangelist has mentioned that they abode with Him that day, but has not added wherefore, because the reason was plain; for from no other motive did they follow Christ, and He draw them to Him, but only that they might have instruction; and this they enjoyed so abundantly and eagerly even in a single night, that they both proceeded straightway to the capture of others.

4. Let us then also learn hence to consider all things secondary to the hearing the word of God, and to deem no season unseasonable, and, though a man мая even have to go into another person's house, and being a person unknown to make himself known to great men, though it be late in the day, or at any time whatever, never to neglect this traffic. Let food and baths and dinners and the other things of this life have their appointed time; but let the teaching of heavenly philosophy have no separate time, let every season belong to it. For Paul says, In season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort 2 Timothy 4:2; and the Prophet too says, In His law will he meditate day and night Psalm 1:3; and Moses commanded the Jews to do this always. For the things of this life, baths, I mean, and dinners, even if they are necessary, yet being continually repeated, render the body feeble; but the teaching of the soul the more it is prolonged, the stronger it renders the soul which receives it. But now we portion out all our time for trifles and unprofitable silly talking, and we sit together idly during the morning and afternoon, midday and evening besides, and we have appointed places for this; but hearing the divine doctrines twice or thrice in the week we become sick, and thoroughly sated. What is the reason? We are in a bad state of soul; its faculty of desiring and reaching after these things we have relaxed altogether. And therefore it is not strong enough to have an appetite for spiritual food. And this among others is a great proof of weakness, not to hunger nor thirst, but to be disinclined to both. Now if this, when it takes place in our bodies, is a sure sign of grievous disease, and productive of weakness, much more is it so in the soul.

How then, says one, shall we be able to renew it, thus fallen and relaxed, to strength? What doing, what saying? By applying ourselves to the divine words of the prophets, of the Apostles, of the Gospels, and all the others; then we shall know that it is far better to feed on these than on impure food, for so we must term our unseasonable idle talking and assemblies. For which is best, tell me, to converse on things relating to the market, or things in the law courts, or in the camp, or on things in heaven, and on what shall be after our departure hence? Which is best, to talk about our neighbor and our neighbor's affairs, to busy ourselves in what belongs to other people, or to enquire into the things of angels, and into matters which concern ourselves? For a neighbor's affairs are not yours at all; but heavenly things are yours. But, says some one, a man мая by once speaking finish these subjects altogether. Why do you not think this in matters on which you converse uselessly and idly, why though you waste your lives on this have you never exhausted the subject? And I have not yet named what is far more vile than this. These are the things about which the better sort converse one with the other; but the more indifferent and careless carry about in their talk players and dancers and charioteers, defiling men's ears, corrupting their souls, and driving their nature into mad excesses by these narratives, and by means of this discourse introducing every kind of wickedness into their own imagination. For as soon as the tongue has uttered the name of the dancer, immediately the soul has figured to itself his looks, his hair, his delicate clothing, and himself more effeminate than all. Another again fans the flame in another way, by introducing some harlot into the conversation, with her words, and attitudes, and glances, her languishing looks and twisted locks, the smoothness of her cheeks, and her painted eyelids. Were you not somewhat affected when I gave this description? Yet be not ashamed, nor blush, for the very necessity of nature requires this, and so disposes the soul according as the tendency of what is said мая be. But if, when it is I that speak, you, standing in the church, and at a distance from these things, were somewhat affected at the hearing, consider how it is likely that they are disposed, who sit in the theater itself, who are totally free from dread, who are absent from this venerable and awful assembly, who both see and hear those things with much shamelessness. And why then, perhaps one of those who heed not мая say, if the necessity of nature so disposes the soul, do you let go that, and blame us? Because, to be softened when one hears these things, is nature's work; but to hear them is not a fault of nature, but of deliberate choice. For so he who meddles with fire must needs be injured, so wills the weakness of our nature; yet nature does not therefore draw us to the fire and to the injury thence arising; this can be only from deliberate perversity. I beseech you, therefore, to remove and correct this fault, that you мая not of your own accord cast yourself down the precipice, nor thrust yourselves into the pits of wickedness, nor run of yourselves to the blaze, lest we place ourselves in jeopardy of the fire prepared for the devil. мая it come to pass, that we all being delivered both from this fire and from that, мая go to the very bosom of Abraham, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 19 on the Gospel of John

John 1:41–42

He first finds his own brother Simon, and says unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus.

1. When God in the beginning made man, He did not allow him to be alone, but gave him woman for a helpmate, and made them to dwell together, knowing that great advantage would result from this companionship. What though the woman did not rightly employ this benefit? Still if any one make himself fully acquainted with the nature of the matter, he will see, that to the wise great advantage arises from this dwelling together; not in the cause of wife or husband only, but if brothers do this, they also shall enjoy the benefit. Wherefore the Prophet has said, What is good, what is pleasant, but that brethren should dwell together? Psalm 133:1, Septuagint And Paul exhorted not to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. Hebrews 10:25 In this it is that we differ from beasts, for this we have built cities, and markets, and houses, that we мая be united one with another, not in the place of our dwelling only, but by the bond of love. For since our nature came imperfect from Him who made it, and is not self-sufficient, God, for our advantage, ordained that the want hence existing should be corrected by the assistance arising from mutual intercourse; so that what was lacking in one should be supplied by another, and the defective nature thus be rendered self-sufficient; as, for instance, that though made mortal, it should by succession for a long time maintain immortality. I might have gone into this argument at greater length, to show what advantages arise to those who come together from genuine and pure intercourse with each other: but there is another thing which presses now, that on account of which we have made these remarks.

Andrew, after having tarried with Jesus and learned what He did, kept not the treasure to himself, but hastens and runs quickly to his brother, to impart to him of the good things which he had received. But wherefore has not John said on what matters Christ conversed with them? Whence is it clear that it was for this that they abode with Him? It was proved by us the other day; but we мая learn it from what has been read today as well. Observe what Andrew says to his brother; We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. You see how, as far as he had learned in a short time, he showed the wisdom of the teacher who persuaded them, and their own zeal, who cared for these things long ago, and from the beginning. For this word, we have found, is the expression of a soul which travails for His presence, and looks for His coming from above, and is made overjoyed when the looked-for thing has happened, and hastens to impart to others the good tidings. This is the part of brotherly affection, of natural friendship, of a sincere disposition, to be eager to stretch out the hand to each other in spiritual things. Hear him besides speak with the addition of the article; for he does not say Messias, but the Messias; thus they were expecting some one Christ, having nothing in common with the others. And behold, I beg of you, the mind of Peter obedient and tractable from the very beginning; he ran to Him without any delay; He brought him, says St. John, to Jesus. Yet let no one blame his easy temper if he received the word without much questioning, because it is probable that his brother had told him these things more exactly and at length; but the Evangelists from their care for conciseness constantly cut many things short. Besides, it is not said absolutely that he believed, but that he brought him to Jesus, to give him up for the future to Him, so that from Him he might learn all; for the other disciple also was with him, and contributed to this. And if John the Baptist, when he had said that He was the Lamb, and that He baptized with the Spirit, gave them over to learn the clearer doctrine concerning this thing from Him, much more would Andrew have done this, not deeming him self sufficient to declare the whole, but drawing him to the very fount of light with so much zeal and joy, that the other neither deferred nor delayed at all.

John 1:42

And when Jesus beheld him, He said, 'You are Simon, the son of Jonas; you shall be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a stone.'

2. He begins from this time forth to reveal the things belonging to His Divinity, and to open It out little by little by predictions. So He did in the case of Nathaniel and the Samaritan woman. For prophecies bring men over not less than miracles; and are free from the appearance of boasting. Miracles мая possibly be slandered among foolish men, He casts out devils, said they, by Beelzebub Matthew 12:24, but nothing of the kind has ever been said of prophecy. Now in the case of Nathaniel and Simon He used this method of teaching, but with Andrew and Philip He did not so. Why was this? Because those (two) had the testimony of John, no small preparation, and Philip received a credible evidence of faith, when he saw those who had been present.

You are Simon, the son of Jonas. By the present, the future is guaranteed; for it is clear that He who named Peter's father foreknew the future also. And the prediction is attended with praise; but the object was not to flatter, but to foretell something future. Hear at least in the case of the Samaritan woman, how He utters a prediction with severe reproofs; You have had, he says, five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not your husband. John 4:18 So also His Father makes great account of prophecy, when He sets Himself against the honor paid to idols: Let them declare to you, says He, what shall come upon you Isaiah 47:13; and again, I have declared, and have saved, and there was no foreign God among you Isaiah 43:12, Septuagint; and He brings this forward through all prophecy. Because prophecy is especially the work of God, which devils cannot even imitate, though they strive exceedingly. For in the case of miracles there мая be delusion; but exactly to foretell the future belongs to that pure Nature alone. Or if devils ever have done so, it was by deceiving the simpler sort; whence their oracles are always easily detected.

But Peter makes no reply to these words; as yet he knew nothing clearly, but still was learning. And observe, that not even the prediction is fully set forth; for Jesus did not say, I will change your name to Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, but, You shall be called Cephas. The former speech would have expressed too great authority and power; for Christ does not immediately nor at first declare all His power, but speaks for a while in a humbler tone; and so, when He had given the proof of His Divinity, He puts it more authoritatively, saying, Blessed are you, Simon, because My Father has revealed it to you; and again, You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church. Matthew 16:17–18 Him therefore He so named, and James and his brother He called sons of thunder. Mark 3:17 Why then does He this? To show that it was He who gave the old covenant, that it was He who altered names, who called Abram Abraham, and Sarai Sarah, and Jacob Israel. To many he assigned names even from their birth, as to Isaac, and Samson, and to those in Isaiah and Hosea Isaiah 8:3; Hosea 1:4–9; but to others He gave them after they had been named by their parents, as to those we have mentioned, and to Joshua the Son of Nun. It was also a custom of the Ancients to give names from things, which in fact Leah also has done; and this takes place not without cause, but in order that men мая have the appellation to remind them of the goodness of God, that a perpetual memory of the prophecy conveyed by the names мая sound in the ears of those who receive it. Thus too He named John early, because they whose virtue was to shine forth from their early youth, from that time received their names; while to those who were to become great at a later period, the title also was given later.

3. But then they received each a different name, we now have all one name, that which is greater than any, being called Christians, and sons of God, and (His) friends, and (His) Body. For the very term itself is able more than all those others to rouse us, and make us more zealous for the practice of virtue. Let us not then act unworthily of the honor belonging to the title, considering the excess of our dignity, we who are called Christ's; for so Paul has named us. Let us bear in mind and respect the grandeur of the appellation. 1Corinthians 3:23 For if one who is said to be descended from some famous general, or one otherwise distinguished, is proud to be called this or that man's son, and deems the name a great honor, and strives in every way so as not to affix, by remissness of his own, reproach to him after whom he is called; shall not we who are called after the name, not of a general, nor any of the princes upon earth, nor Angel, nor Archangel, nor Seraphim, but of the King of these Himself, shall not we freely give even our very life, so as not to insult Him who has honored us? Do you not know what honor the royal bands of shield-bearers and spearmen that are about the king enjoy? So let us who have been deemed worthy to be near Him, and much closer, and as much nearer than those just named, as the body is closer to the head than they, let us, I say, use every means to be imitators of Christ.

What then says Christ? The foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay His head. Luke 9:58 Now if I demand this of you, it will seem perhaps to most of you grievous and burdensome; because therefore of your infirmity I speak not of such perfection, but desire you not to be nailed to riches; and as I, because of the infirmity of the many, retire somewhat from (demanding) the excess of virtue, I desire that you do so and much more on the side of vice. I blame not those who have houses, and lands, and wealth, and servants, but wish them to possess these things in a safe and becoming way. And what is a becoming way? As masters, not as slaves; so that they rule them, be not ruled by them; that they use, not abuse them. This is why they are called, things to be used, that we мая employ them on necessary services, not hoard them up; this is a domestic's office, that a master's; it is for the slave to keep them, but for the lord and one who has great authority to expend. You did not receive your wealth to bury, but to distribute. Had God desired riches to be hoarded, He would not have given them to men, but would have let them remain as they were in the earth; but because He wishes them to be spent, therefore He has permitted us to have them, that we мая impart them to each other. And if we keep them to ourselves, we are no longer masters of them. But if you wish to make them greater and therefore keep them shut up, even in this case the best plan of all is to scatter and distribute them in all directions; because there can be no revenue without an outlay, no wealth without expenditure. One мая see that it is so even in worldly matters. So it is with the merchant, so with the husbandman, who put forth the one his wealth, the other his seed; the one sails the sea to disperse his wares, the other labors all the year putting in and tending his seed. But here there is no need of any one of these things, neither to equip a vessel, nor to yoke oxen, nor to plough land, nor to be anxious about uncertain weather, nor to dread a fall of hail; here are neither waves nor rocks; this voyage and this sowing needs one thing only, that we cast forth our possessions; all the rest will that Husbandman do, of whom Christ says, My Father is the Husbandman. John 15:1 Is it not then absurd to be sluggish and slothful where we мая gain all without labor, and where there are many toils and many troubles and cares, and after all, an uncertain hope, there to display all eagerness? Let us not, I beseech you, let us not be to such a degree senseless about our own salvation, but let us leave the more troublesome task, and run to that which is most easy and more profitable, that we мая obtain also the good things that are to come; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy and quickening Spirit be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 20 on the Gospel of John

John 1:43–44

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee and finds Philip, and says unto him, Follow Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

1. To every careful thinker there is a gain Proverbs 14:23, Septuagint, says the proverb; and Christ implied more than this, when He said, He that seeks finds. Matthew 7:8 Wherefore it does not occur to me any more to wonder how Philip followed Christ. Andrew was persuaded when he had heard from John, and Peter the same from Andrew, but Philip not having learned anything from any but Christ who said to him only this, Follow Me, straightway obeyed, and went not back, but even became a preacher to others. For he ran to Nathanael and said to him, We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write. Do you see what a thoughtful mind he had, how assiduously he meditated on the writings of Moses, and expected the Advent? For the expression, we have found, belongs always to those who are in some way seeking. The day following Jesus went forth into Galilee. Before any had joined Him, He called no one; and He acted thus not without cause, but according to his own wisdom and intelligence. For if, when no one came to Him spontaneously, He had Himself drawn them, they might perhaps have started away; but now, having chosen this of themselves, they afterwards remained firm. He calls Philip, one who was better acquainted with Him; for he, as having been born and bred in Galilee, knew Him more than others. Having then taken the disciples, He next goes to the capture of the others, and draws to Him Philip and Nathanael. Now in the case of Nathanael this was not so wonderful, because the fame of Jesus had gone forth into all Syria. Matthew 4:24 But the wonderful thing was respecting Peter and James and Philip, that they believed, not only before the miracles, but that they did so being of Galilee, out of which arises no prophet, nor can any good thing come; for the Galilæans were somehow of a more boorish and dull disposition than others; but even in this Christ displayed forth His power, by selecting from a land which bore no fruit His choicest disciples. It is then probable that Philip having seen Peter and Andrew, and having heard what John had said, followed; and it is probable also that the voice of Christ wrought in him somewhat; for He knew those who would be serviceable. But all these points the Evangelist cuts short. That Christ should come, he knew; that this was Christ, he knew not, and this I say that he heard either from Peter or John. But John mentions his village also, that you мая learn that God has chosen the weak things of the world. 1Corinthians 1:27

John 1:45

Philip finds Nathanael, and says unto him, We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

He says this, to make his preaching credible, which it must be if it rests on Moses and the Prophets besides, and by this to abash his hearer. For since Nathanael was an exact man, and one who viewed all things with truth, as Christ also testified and the event showed, Philip with reason refers him to Moses and the Prophets, that so he might receive Him who was preached. And he not troubled though he called Him the son of Joseph; for still he was supposed to be his son. And whence, O Philip, is it plain that this is He? What proof do you mention to us? For it is not enough merely to assert this. What sign have you seen, what miracle? Not without danger is it to believe without cause in such matters. What proof then have you? The same as Andrew, he replies; for he though unable to produce the wealth which he had found, or to describe his treasure in words, when he had discovered it, led his brother to it. So too did Philip. How this is the Christ, and how the prophets proclaimed Him beforehand, he said not; but he draws him to Jesus, as knowing that he would not afterwards fall off, if he should once taste His words and teaching.

John 1:46–47

And Nathanael said to him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip says unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and says of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.

He praises and approves the man, because he had said, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? and yet he ought to have been blamed. Surely not; for the words are not those of an unbeliever, nor deserving blame, but praise. How so, and in what way? Because Nathanael had considered the writings of the Prophets more than Philip. For he had heard from the Scriptures, that Christ must come from Bethlehem, and from the village in which David was. This belief at least prevailed among the Jews, and the Prophet had proclaimed it of old, saying, And thou, Bethlehem, art by no means the least among the princes of Judah, for out of you shall come a Governor, that shall feed My people Israel. Matthew 2:6; Micah 5:2 And so when he heard that He was from Nazareth, he was confounded, and doubted, not finding the announcement of Philip to agree with the prediction of the Prophet.

But observe his wisdom and candor even in his doubting. He did not at once say, Philip, you deceive me, and speakest falsely, I believe you not, I will not come; I have learned from the prophets that Christ must come from Bethlehem, you say, 'from Nazareth'; therefore this is not that Christ. He said nothing like this; but what does he? He goes to Him himself; showing, by not admitting that Christ was of Nazareth, his accuracy respecting the Scriptures, and a character not easily deceived; and by not rejecting him who brought the tidings, the great desire which he felt for the coming of Christ. For he thought within himself that Philip was probably mistaken about the place.

2. And observe, I pray you, his manner of declining, how gentle he has made it, and in the form of a question. For he said not, Galilee produces no good; but how said he? Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip also was very prudent; for he is not as one perplexed, angry, and annoyed, but perseveres, wishing to bring over the man, and manifesting to us from the first of his preaching the firmness which becomes an Apostle. Wherefore also Christ says, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile. So that there is such a person as a false Israelite; but this is not such an one; for his judgment, Christ says, is impartial, he speaks nothing from favor, or from ill-feeling. Yet the Jews, when they were asked where Christ should be born, replied, In Bethlehem Matthew 2:5, and produced the evidence, saying, And thou, Bethlehem, art by no means the least among the princes of Judah. Micah 5:2 Before they had seen Him they bore this witness, but when they saw Him in their malice they concealed the testimony, saying, But as for this fellow, we know not whence He is. John 9:29 Nathanael did not so, but continued to retain the opinion which he had from the beginning, that He was not of Nazareth.

How then do the prophets call Him a Nazarene? From His being brought up and abiding there. And He omits to say, I am not 'of Nazareth,' as Philip has told you, but of Bethlehem, that He мая not at once make the account seem questionable; and besides this, because, even if He had gained belief, He would not have given sufficient proof that He was the Christ. For what hindered Him without being Christ, from being of Bethlehem, like the others who were born there? This then He omits; but He does that which has most power to bring him over, for He shows that He was present when they were conversing. For when Nathanael had said,

John 1:48

Whence know Thou me? . . . Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig-tree, I saw you.

Observe a man firm and steady. When Christ had said, Behold an Israelite indeed, he was not made vain by this approbation, he ran not after this open praise, but continues seeking and searching more exactly, and desires to learn something certain. He still enquired as of a man, but Jesus answered as God. For He said, I have known you from the first, (him and the candor of his character, this He knew not as a man, from having closely followed him, but as God from the first,) and but now I saw you by the fig-tree; when there was no one present there but only Philip and Nathanael who said all these things in private. It is mentioned, that having seen him afar off, He said, Behold an Israelite indeed; to show, that before Philip came near, Christ spoke these words, that the testimony might not be suspected. For this reason also He named the time, the place, and the tree; because if He had only said, Before Philip came to you, I saw you, He might have been suspected of having sent him, and of saying nothing wonderful; but now, by mentioning both the place where he was when addressed by Philip, and the name of the tree, and the time of the conversation, He showed that His foreknowledge was unquestionable.

And He did not merely show to him His foreknowledge, but instructed him also in another way. For He brought him to a recollection of what they then had said; as, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? And it was most especially on this account that Nathanael received Him, because when he had uttered these words, He did not condemn, but praised and approved him. Therefore he was assured that this was indeed the Christ, both from His foreknowledge, and from His having exactly searched out his sentiments, which was the act of One who would show that He knew what was in his mind; and besides, from His not having blamed, but rather praised him when he had seemed to speak against Himself. He said then, that Philip had called him; but what Philip had said to him or he to Philip, He omitted, leaving it to his own conscience, and not desiring farther to rebuke him.

3. Was it then only before Philip called him that He saw him? Did He not see him before this with His sleepless eye? He saw him, and none could gainsay it; but this is what it was needful to say at the time. And what did Nathanael? When he had received an unquestionable proof of His foreknowledge, he hastened to confess Him, showing by his previous delay his caution, and his fairness by his assent afterwards. For, said the Evangelist,

John 1:49

He answered and says unto Him, Rabbi, You are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel:

Do you see how his soul is filled at once with exceeding joy, and embraces Jesus with words? You are, says he, that expected, that sought-for One. Do you see how he is amazed, how he marvels? How he leaps and dances with delight?

So ought we also to rejoice, who have been thought worthy to know the Son of God; to rejoice, not in thought alone, but to show it also by our actions. And what must they do who rejoice? Obey Him who has been made known to them; and they who obey, must do whatever He wills. For if we are going to do what angers Him, how shall we show that we rejoice? Do you not see in our houses when a man entertains one whom he loves, how gladly he exerts himself, running about in every direction, and though it be needful to spend all that he has, sparing nothing so that he please his visitor? But if one who invites should not attend to his , and not do such things as would procure him ease, though he should say ten thousand times that he rejoices at his coming, he could never be believed by him. And justly; for this should be shown by actions. Let us then, since Christ has come to us, show that we rejoice, and do nothing that мая anger him; let us garnish the abode to which He has come, for this they do who rejoice; let us set before Him the meal which He desires to eat, for this they do who hold festival. And what is this meal? He says Himself; My meat is, that I мая do the will of Him that sent me. John 4:34 When He is hungry, let us feed Him; when He is thirsty, let us give Him drink: though thou give Him but a cup of cold water, He receives it; for He loves you, and to one who loves, the offerings of the beloved, though they be small, appear great. Only be not thou slothful; though you cast in but two farthings, He refuses them not, but receives them as great riches. For since He is without wants, and receives these offerings, not because He needs them, it is reasonable that all distinction should be not in the quantity of the gifts, but the intention of the giver. Only show that you love Him who has come, that for His sake you are giving all diligence, that you rejoice at His coming. See how He is disposed toward you. He came for you, He laid down His life for you, and after all this He does not refuse even to entreat you. We are ambassadors, says Paul, for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us. 2Corinthians 5:20 And who is so mad, says some one, as not to love his own Master? I say so too, and I know that not one of us would deny this in words or intention; but one who is beloved desires love to be shown, not by words only, but by deeds also. For to say that we love, and not to act like lovers, is ridiculous, not only before God, but even in the sight of men. Since then to confess Him in word only, while in deeds we oppose Him, is not only unprofitable, but also hurtful to us; let us, I entreat you, also make confession by our works; that we also мая obtain a confession from Him in that day, when before His Father He shall confess those who are worthy in Christ Jesus our Lord, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 21 on the Gospel of John

John 1:49–50

Nathanael answered and says unto Him, Rabbi, You are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel. Jesus answered, and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig-tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.

1. Beloved, we need much care, much watchfulness, to be able to look into the depth of the Divine Scriptures. For it is not possible to discover their meaning in a careless way, or while we are asleep, but there needs close search, and there needs earnest prayer, that we мая be enabled to see some little way into the secrets of the divine oracles. Today, for instance, here is no trifling question proposed to us, but one which requires much zeal and enquiry. For when Nathanael said, You are the Son of God, Christ replies, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig-tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.

Now what is the question arising from this passage? It is this. Peter, when after so many miracles and such high doctrine he confessed that, You are the Son of God Matthew 16:16, is called blessed, as having received the revelation from the Father; while Nathanael, though he said the very same thing before seeing or hearing either miracles or doctrine, had no such word addressed to him, but as though he had not said so much as he ought to have said, is brought to things greater still. What can be the reason of this? It is, that Peter and Nathanael both spoke the same words, but not both with the same intention. Peter confessed Him to be The Son of God but as being Very God; Nathanael, as being mere man. And whence does this appear? From what he said after these words; for after, You are the Son of God, he adds, You are the King of Israel. But the Son of God is not King of Israel only, but of all the world.

And what I say is clear, not from this only, but also from what follows. For Christ added nothing more to Peter, but as though his faith were perfect, said, that upon this confession of his He would build the Church; but in the other case He did nothing like this, but the contrary. For as though some large, and that the better, part were wanting to his confession He added what follows. For what says He?

John 1:51

Verily, verily I say unto you, Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

Do you see how He leads him up little by little from the earth, and causes him no longer to imagine Him a man merely? For One to whom Angels minister, and on whom Angels ascend and descend, how could He be man? For this reason He said, You shall see greater things than these. And in proof of this, He introduces the ministry of Angels. And what He means is something of this kind: Does this, O Nathanael, seem to you a great matter, and have you for this confessed me to be King of Israel? What then will you say, when you see the Angels ascending and descending upon Me? Persuading him by these words to own Him Lord also of the Angels. For on Him as on the King's own Son, the royal ministers ascended and descended, once at the season of the Crucifixion, again at the time of the Resurrection and the Ascension, and before this also, when they came and ministered unto Him Matthew 4:11, when they proclaimed the glad tidings of His birth, and cried, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace Luke 2:14, when they came to Mary, when they came to Joseph.

And He does now what He has done in many instances; He utters two predictions, gives present proof of the one, and confirms that which has to be accomplished by that which is so already. For of His sayings some had been proved, such as, Before Philip called you, under the fig-tree I saw you; others had yet to come to pass, and had partly done so, namely, the descending and ascending of the Angels, at the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension; and this He renders credible by His words even before the event. For one who had known His power by what had gone before, and heard from Him of things to come, would more readily receive this prediction too.

What then does Nathanael? To this he makes no reply. And therefore at this point Christ stopped His discourse with him, allowing him to consider in private what had been said; and not choosing to pour forth all at once, having cast seed into fertile ground, He then leaves it to shoot at leisure. And this He has shown in another place, where He says, The kingdom of heaven is like to a man that sows good seed, but while he slept, his enemy comes, and sows tares among the wheat.

John 2:1–2

On the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. And Jesus was called to the marriage. And the mother of Jesus was there, and His brethren.

I said before that He was best known in Galilee; therefore they invite Him to the marriage, and He comes; for He looked not to His own honor, but to our benefit. He who disdained not to take upon Him the form of a servant Philippians 2:7, would much less disdain to be present at the marriage of servants; He who sat down with publicans and sinners Matthew 9:13, would much less refuse to sit down with those present at the marriage. Assuredly they who invited Him had not formed a proper judgment of Him, nor did they invite Him as some great one, but merely as an ordinary acquaintance; and this the Evangelist has hinted at, when he says, The mother of Jesus was there, and His brethren. Just as they invited her and His brethren, they invited Jesus.

John 2:3

And when they wanted wine, His mother says unto Him, They have no wine.

Here it is worth while to enquire whence it came into His mother's mind to imagine anything great of her Son; for He had as yet done no miracle, since the Evangelist says, This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee. John 2:11

2. Now if any say that this is not a sufficient proof that it was the beginning of His miracles, because there is added simply in Cana of Galilee, as allowing it to have been the first done there, but not altogether and absolutely the first, for He probably might have done others elsewhere, we will make answer to him of that which we have said before. And of what kind? The words of John (the Baptist); And I knew Him not; but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come, baptizing with water. Now if He had wrought miracles in early age, the Israelites would not have needed another to declare Him. For He who came among men, and by His miracles was so made known, not to those only in Judæa, but also to those in Syria and beyond, and who did this in three years only, or rather who did not need even these three years to manifest Himself Matthew 4:24, for immediately and from the first His fame went abroad everywhere; He, I say, who in a short time so shone forth by the multitude of His miracles, that His name was well known to all, was much less likely, if while a child He had from an early age wrought miracles, to escape notice so long. For what was done would have seemed stranger as done by a boy, and there would have been time for twice or thrice as many, and much more. But in fact He did nothing while He was a child, save only that one thing to which Luke has testified Luke 2:46, that at the age of twelve years He sat hearing the doctors, and was thought admirable for His questioning. Besides, it was in accordance with likelihood and reason that He did not begin His signs at once from an early age; for they would have deemed the thing a delusion. For if when He was of full age many suspected this, much more, if while quite young He had wrought miracles, would they have hurried Him sooner and before the proper time to the Cross, in the venom of their malice; and the very facts of the Dispensation would have been discredited.

How then, asks some one, came it into the mind of His mother to imagine anything great of Him? He was now beginning to reveal Himself, and was plainly discovered by the witness of John, and by what He had said to His disciples. And before all this, the Conception itself and all its attending circumstances had inspired her with a very great opinion of the Child; for, said Luke, she heard all the sayings concerning the Child, and kept them in her heart. Why then, says one, did not she speak this before? Because, as I said, it was now at last that He was beginning to manifest Himself. Before this time He lived as one of the many, and therefore His mother had not confidence to say any such thing to Him; but when she heard that John had come on His account, and that he had borne such witness to Him as he did, and that He had disciples, after that she took confidence, and called Him, and said, when they wanted wine, They have no wine. For she desired both to do them a favor, and through her Son to render herself more conspicuous; perhaps too she had some human feelings, like His brethren, when they said, Show yourself to the world John 17:4, desiring to gain credit from His miracles. Therefore He answered somewhat vehemently, saying,

John 2:4

Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come.

To prove that He greatly respected His mother, hear Luke relate how He was subject to His parents Luke 2:51, and our own Evangelist declare how He had forethought for her at the very season of the Crucifixion. For where parents cause no impediment or hindrance in things belonging to God, it is our bounden duty to give way to them, and there is great danger in not doing so; but when they require anything unseasonably, and cause hindrance in any spiritual matter, it is unsafe to obey. And therefore He answered thus in this place, and again elsewhere, Who is My mother, and who are My brethren? Matthew 12:48, because they did not yet think rightly of Him; and she, because she had borne Him, claimed, according to the custom of other mothers, to direct Him in all things, when she ought to have reverenced and worshipped Him. This then was the reason why He answered as He did on that occasion. For consider what a thing it was, that when all the people high and low were standing round Him, when the multitude was intent on hearing Him, and His doctrine had begun to be set forth, she should come into the midst and take Him away from the work of exhortation, and converse with Him apart, and not even endure to come within, but draw Him outside merely to herself. This is why He said, Who is My mother and My brethren? Not to insult her who had borne Him, (away with the thought!) but to procure her the greatest benefit, and not to let her think meanly of Him. For if He cared for others, and used every means to implant in them a becoming opinion of Himself, much more would He do so in the case of His mother. And since it was probable that if these words had been addressed to her by her Son, she would not readily have chosen even then to be convinced, but would in all cases have claimed the superiority as being His mother, therefore He replied as He did to them who spoke to Him; otherwise He could not have led up her thoughts from His present lowliness to His future exaltation, had she expected that she should always be honored by Him as by a son, and not that He should come as her Master.

3. It was then from this motive that He said in this place, Woman, what have I to do with you? and also for another reason not less pressing. What was that? It was, that His miracles might not be suspected. The request ought to have come from those who needed, not from His mother. And why so? Because what is done at the request of one's friends, great though it be, often causes offense to the spectators; but when they make the request who have the need, the miracle is free from suspicion, the praise unmixed, the benefit great. So if some excellent physician should enter a house where there were many sick, and be spoken to by none of the patients or their relations, but be directed only by his own mother, he would be suspected and disliked by the sufferers, nor would any of the patients or their attendants deem him able to exhibit anything great or remarkable. And so this was a reason why He rebuked her on that occasion, saying, Woman, what have I to do with you? instructing her for the future not to do the like; because, though He was careful to honor His mother, yet He cared much more for the salvation of her soul, and for the doing good to the many, for which He took upon Him the flesh.

These then were the words, not of one speaking rudely to his mother, but belonging to a wise dispensation, which brought her into a right frame of mind, and provided that the miracles should be attended with that honor which was meet. And setting other things aside, this very appearance which these words have of having been spoken chidingly, is amply enough to show that He held her in high honor, for by His displeasure He showed that He reverenced her greatly; in what manner, we will say in the next discourse. Think of this then, and when you hear a certain woman saying, Blessed is the womb that bare You, and the paps which You have sucked, and Him answering, rather blessed are they that do the will of my Father Luke 11:27, suppose that those other words also were said with the same intention. For the answer was not that of one rejecting his mother, but of One who would show that her having borne Him would have nothing availed her, had she not been very good and faithful. Now if, setting aside the excellence of her soul, it profited Mary nothing that the Christ was born of her, much less will it be able to avail us to have a father or a brother, or a child of virtuous and noble disposition, if we ourselves be far removed from his virtue. A brother, says David, does not redeem, shall man redeem? Psalm 49:7, Septuagint We must place our hopes of salvation in nothing else, but only in our own righteous deeds (done) after the grace of God. For if this by itself could have availed, it would have availed the Jews, (for Christ was their kinsman according to the flesh,) it would have availed the town in which He was born, it would have availed His brethren. But as long as His brethren cared not for themselves, the honor of their kindred availed them nothing, but they were condemned with the rest of the world, and then only were approved, when they shone by their own virtue; and the city fell, and was burnt, having gained nothing from this; and His kinsmen according to the flesh were slaughtered and perished very miserably, having gained nothing towards being saved from their relationship to Him, because they had not the defense of virtue. The Apostles, on the contrary, appeared greater than any, because they followed the true and excellent way of gaining relationship with Him, that by obedience. And from this we learn that we have always need of faith, and a life shining and bright, since this alone will have power to save us. For though His relations were for a long time everywhere held in honor, being called the Lord's kinsmen, yet now we do not even know their names, while the lives and names of the Apostles are everywhere celebrated.

Let us then not be proud of nobleness of birth according to the flesh, but though we have ten thousand famous ancestors, let us use diligence ourselves to go beyond their excellences, knowing that we shall gain nothing from the diligence of others to help us in the judgment that is to come; nay, this will be the more grievous condemnation, that though born of righteous parents and having an example at home, we do not, even thus, imitate our teachers. And this I say now, because I see many heathens, when we lead them to the faith and exhort them to become Christians, flying to their kinsmen and ancestors and house, and saying, All my relations and friends and companions are faithful Christians. What is that to you, thou wretched and miserable? This very thing will be especially your ruin, that you did not respect the number of those around you, and run to the truth. Others again who are believers but live a careless life, when exhorted to virtue make the very same defense, and say, my father and my grandfather and my great-grandfather were very pious and good men. But this will assuredly most condemn you, that being descended from such men, you have acted unworthily of the root from whence you are sprung. For hear what the Prophet says to the Jews, Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept (sheep) Hosea 12:12; and again Christ, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad. John 8:56 And everywhere they bring forward to them the righteous acts of their fathers, not only to praise them, but also to make the charge against their descendants more heavy. Knowing then this, let us use every means that we мая be saved by our own works, lest having deceived ourselves by vain trusting on others, we learn that we have been deceived when the knowledge of it will profit us nothing. In the grave, says David, who shall give you thanks? Psalm 6:5 Let us then repent here, that we мая obtain the everlasting goods, which мая God grant we all do, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 22 on the Gospel of John

John 2:4

Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come.

1. In preaching the word there is some toil, and this Paul declares when he says, Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. 1 Timothy 5:17 Yet it is in your power to make this labor light or heavy; for if you reject our words, or if without actually rejecting them you do not show them forth in your works, our toil will be heavy, because we labor uselessly and in vain: while if you heed them and give proof of it by your works, we shall not even feel the toil, because the fruit produced by our labor will not suffer the greatness of that labor to appear. So that if you would rouse our zeal, and not quench or weaken it, show us, I beseech you, your fruit, that we мая behold the fields waving with grain, and being supported by hopes of an abundant crop, and reckoning up your riches, мая not be slothful in carrying on this good traffic.

It is no slight question which is proposed to us also today. For first, when the mother of Jesus says, They have no wine, Christ replies, Woman, what have I to do with you? Mine, hour is not yet come. And then, having thus spoken, He did as His mother had said; an action which needs enquiry no less than the words. Let us then, after calling upon Him who wrought the miracle, proceed to the explanation.

The words are not used in this place only, but in others also; for the same Evangelist says, They could not lay hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come John 8:20; and again, No man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come John 7:30; and again, The hour has come, glorify Your Son. John 17:1 What then do the words mean? I have brought together more instances, that I мая give one explanation of all. And what is that explanation? Christ did not say, Mine hour is not yet come, as being subject to the necessity of seasons, or the observance of an hour; how can He be so, who is Maker of seasons, and Creator of the times and the ages? To what else then did He allude? He desires to show this; that He works all things at their convenient season, not doing all at once; because a kind of confusion and disorder would have ensued, if, instead of working all at their proper seasons, He had mixed all together, His Birth, His Resurrection, and His coming to Judgment. Observe this; creation was to be, yet not all at once; man and woman were to be created, yet not even these together; mankind were to be condemned to death, and there was to be a resurrection, yet the interval between the two was to be great; the law was to be given, but not grace with it, each was to be dispensed at its proper time. Now Christ was not subject to the necessity of seasons, but rather settled their order, since He is their Creator; and therefore He says in this place, Mine hour is not yet come. And His meaning is, that as yet He was not manifest to the many, nor had He even His whole company of disciples; Andrew followed Him, and next to him Philip, but no one else. And moreover, none of these, not even His mother nor His brethren, knew Him as they ought; for after His many miracles, the Evangelist says of His brethren, For neither did His brethren believe in Him. John 7:5 And those at the wedding did not know Him either, for in their need they would certainly have come to and entreated Him. Therefore He says, Mine hour is not yet come; that is, I am not yet known to the company, nor are they even aware that the wine has failed; let them first be sensible of this. I ought not to have been told it from you; you are My mother, and renderest the miracle suspicious. They who wanted the wine should have come and besought Me, not that I need this, but that they might with an entire assent accept the miracle. For one who knows that he is in need, is very grateful when he obtains assistance; but one who has not a sense of his need, will never have a plain and clear sense of the benefit.

Why then after He had said, Mine hour is not yet come, and given her a denial, did He what His mother desired? Chiefly it was, that they who opposed Him, and thought that He was subject to the hour, might have sufficient proof that He was subject to no hour; for had He been so, how could He, before the proper hour had come, have done what He did? And in the next place, He did it to honor His mother, that He might not seem entirely to contradict and shame her that bare Him in the presence of so many; and also, that He might not be thought to want power, for she brought the servants to Him.

Besides, even while saying to the Canaanitish woman, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to give it unto dogs Matthew 15:26, He still gave the bread, as considering her perseverance; and though after his first reply, He said, I am not sent save unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, yet even after saying this, He healed the woman's daughter. Hence we learn, that although we be unworthy, we often by perseverance make ourselves worthy to receive. And for this reason His mother remained by, and openly brought to Him the servants, that the request might be made by a greater number; and therefore she added,

John 2:5

Whatsoever He says unto you, do it.

For she knew that His refusal proceeded not from want of power, but from humility, and that He might not seem without cause to hurry to the miracle; and therefore she brought the servants.

John 2:6–7

And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus said to them, Fill the waterpots with water; and they filled them up to the brim.

It is not without a reason that the Evangelist says, After the manner of the purifying of the Jews, but in order that none of the unbelievers might suspect that lees having been left in the vessels, and water having been poured upon and mixed with them, a very weak wine had been made. Therefore he says, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, to show that those vessels were never receptacles for wine. For because Palestine is a country with but little water, and brooks and fountains were not everywhere to be found, they always used to fill waterpots with water, so that they might not have to hasten to the rivers if at any time they were defiled, but might have the means of purification at hand.

And why was it, that He did not the miracle before they filled them, which would have been more marvelous by far? For it is one thing to change given matter to a different quality, and another to create matter out of nothing. The latter would indeed have been more wonderful, but would not have seemed so credible to the many. And therefore He often purposely lessens the greatness of His miracles, that it мая be the more readily received.

But why, says one, did not He Himself produce the water which He afterwards showed to be wine, instead of bidding the servants bring it? For the very same reason; and also, that He might have those who drew it out to witness that what had been effected was no delusion since if any had been inclined to be shameless, those who ministered might have said to them, We drew the water, we filled the vessels. And besides what we have mentioned, He thus overthrows those doctrines which spring up against the Church. For since there are some who say that the Creator of the world is another, and that the things which are seen are not His works, but those of a certain other opposing god, to curb these men's madness He does most of His miracles on matter found at hand. Because, had the creator of these been opposed to Him, He would not have used what was another's to set forth His own power. But now to show that it is He who transmutes water in the vine plants, and who converts the rain by its passage through the root into wine, He effected that in a moment at the wedding which in the plant is long in doing. When they had filled the waterpots, He said,

John 2:8–10

Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast; and they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants which drew the water knew,) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and says unto him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worst; but you have kept the good wine until now.

Here again some mock, saying, this was an assembly of drunken men, the sense of the judges was spoilt, and not able to taste what was made, or to decide on what was done, so that they did not know whether what was made was water or wine: for that they were drunk, it is alleged, the ruler himself has shown by what he said. Now this is most ridiculous, yet even this suspicion the Evangelist has removed. For he does not say that the guests gave their opinion on the matter, but the ruler of the feast, who was sober, and had not as yet tasted anything. For of course you are aware, that those who are entrusted with the management of such banquets are the most sober, as having this one business, to dispose all things in order and regularity; and therefore the Lord called such a man's sober senses to testify to what was done. For He did not say, Pour forth to them that sit at meat, but, Bear unto the governor of the feast.

And when the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants knew,) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom. And why did he not call the servants? For so the miracle would have been revealed. Because Jesus had not Himself revealed what had been done, but desired that the power of His miracles should be known gently, little by little. And suppose that it had then been mentioned, the servants who related it would never have been believed, but would have been thought mad to bear such testimony to one who at that time seemed to the many a mere man; and although they knew the certainty of the thing by experience, (for they were not likely to disbelieve their own hands,) yet they were not sufficient to convince others. And so He did not reveal it to all, but to him who was best able to understand what was done, reserving the clearer knowledge of it for a future time; since after the manifestation of other miracles this also would be credible. Thus when he was about to heal the nobleman's son, the Evangelist has shown that it had already become more clearly known; for it was chiefly because the nobleman had become acquainted with the miracle that he called upon Him, as John incidentally shows when he says, Jesus came into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine. John 4:46 And not wine simply, but the best.

3. For such are the miraculous works of Christ, they are far more perfect and better than the operations of nature. This is seen also in other instances; when He restored any infirm member of the body, He made it better than the sound.

That it was wine then, and the best of wine, that had been made, not the servants only, but the bridegroom and the ruler of the feast would testify; and that it was made by Christ, those who drew the water; so that although the miracle were not then revealed, yet it could not in the end be passed in silence, so many and constraining testimonies had He provided for the future. That He had made the water wine, He had the servants for witnesses; that the wine was good that had been made, the ruler of the feast and the bridegroom.

It might be expected that the bridegroom would reply to this, (the ruler's speech,) and say something, but the Evangelist, hastening to more pressing matters, has only touched upon this miracle, and passed on. For what we needed to learn was, that Christ made the water wine, and that good wine; but what the bridegroom said to the governor he did not think it necessary to add. And many miracles, at first somewhat obscure, have in process of time become more plain, when reported more exactly by those who knew them from the beginning.

At that time, then, Jesus made of water wine, and both then and now He ceases not to change our weak and unstable wills. For there are, yes, there are men who in nothing differ from water, so cold, and weak, and unsettled. But let us bring those of such disposition to the Lord, that He мая change their will to the quality of wine, so that they be no longer washy, but have body, and be the cause of gladness in themselves and others. But who can these cold ones be? They are those who give their minds to the fleeting things of this present life, who despise not this world's luxury, who are lovers of glory and dominion: for all these things are flowing waters, never stable, but ever rushing violently down the steep. The rich today is poor tomorrow, he who one day appears with herald, and girdle, and chariot, and numerous attendants, is often on the next the inhabitant of a dungeon, having unwillingly quitted all that show to make room for another. Again, the gluttonous and dissipated man, when he has filled himself to bursting, cannot retain even for a single day the supply conveyed by his delicacies, but when that is dispersed, in order to renew it he is obliged to put in more, differing in nothing from a torrent. For as in the torrent when the first body of water is gone, others in turn succeed; so in gluttony, when one repast is removed, we again require another. And such is the nature and the lot of earthly things, never to be stable, but to be always pouring and hurrying by; but in the case of luxury, it is not merely the flowing and hastening by; but many other things that trouble us. By the violence of its course it wears away the strength of the body, and strips the soul of its manliness, and the strongest currents of rivers do not so easily eat away their banks and make them sink down, as do luxury and wantonness sweep away all the bulwarks of our health; and if you enter a physician's house and ask him, you will find that almost all the causes of diseases arise from this. For frugality and a plain table is the mother of health, and therefore physicians have thus named it; for they have called the not being satisfied health, (because not to be satisfied with food is health,) and they have spoken of sparing diet as the mother of health. Now if the condition of want is the mother of health, it is clear that fullness is the mother of sickness and debility, and produces attacks which are beyond the skill even of physicians. For gout in the feet, apoplexy, dimness of sight, pains in the hands, tremors, paralytic attacks, jaundice, lingering and inflammatory fevers, and other diseases many more than these, (for we have not time to go over them all,) are the natural offspring, not of abstinence and moderate diet, but of gluttony and repletion. And if you will look to the diseases of the soul that arise from them, you will see that feelings of coveting, sloth, melancholy, dullness, impurity, and folly of all kinds, have their origin here. For after such banquets the souls of the luxurious become no better than asses, being torn to pieces by such wild beasts as these (passions). Shall I say also how many pains and displeasures they have who wait upon luxury? I could not enumerate them all, but by a single principal point I will make the whole clear. At a table such as I speak of, that is, a sumptuous one, men never eat with pleasure; for abstinence is the mother of pleasure as well as health, while repletion is the source and root not only of diseases, but of displeasure. For where there is satiety there desire cannot be, and where there is no desire, how can there be pleasure? And therefore we should find that the poor are not only of better understanding and healthier than the rich, but also that they enjoy a greater degree of pleasure. Let us, when we reflect on this, flee drunkenness and luxury, not that of the table alone, but all other which is found in the things of this life, and let us take in exchange for it the pleasure arising from spiritual things, and, as the Prophet says, delight ourselves in the Lord; Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart Psalm 37:4; that so that we мая enjoy the good things both here and hereafter, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, world without end. Amen.

Homily 23 on the Gospel of John

John 2:11

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee.

1. Frequent and fierce is the devil in his attacks, on all sides besieging our salvation; we therefore must watch and be sober, and everywhere fortify ourselves against his assault, for if he but gain some slight vantage ground, he goes on to make for himself a broad passage, and by degrees introduces all his forces. If then we have any care at all for our salvation, let us not allow him to make his approaches even in trifles, that thus we мая check him beforehand in important matters; for it would be the extreme of folly, if, while he displays such eagerness to destroy our souls, we should not bring even an equal amount in defense of our own salvation.

I say not this without a cause, but because I fear lest that wolf be even now standing unseen by us in the midst of the fold, and some sheep become a prey to him, being led astray from the flock and from hearkening by its own carelessness and his craft. Were the wounds sensible, or did the body receive the blows, there would be no difficulty in discerning his plots; but since the soul is invisible, and since that it is which receives the wounds, we need great watchfulness that each мая prove himself; for none knows the things of a man as the spirit of a man that is in him. 1Corinthians 2:11 The word is spoken indeed to all, and is offered as a general remedy to those who need it, but it is the business of every individual hearer to take what is suited to his complaint. I know not who are sick, I know not who are well. And therefore I use every sort of argument, and introduce remedies suited to all maladies, at one time condemning covetousness, after that touching on luxury, and again on impurity, then composing something in praise of and exhortation to charity, and each of the other virtues in their turn. For I fear lest when my arguments are employed on any one subject, I мая without knowing it be treating you for one disease while you are ill of others. So that if this congregation were but one person, I should not have judged it so absolutely necessary to make my discourse varied; but since in such a multitude there are probably also many maladies, I not unreasonably diversify my teaching, since my discourse will be sure to attain its object when it is made to embrace you all. For this cause also Scripture is something multiform, and speaks on ten thousand matters, because it addresses itself to the nature of mankind in common, and in such a multitude all the passions of the soul must needs be; though all be not in each. Let us then cleanse ourselves of these, and so listen to the divine oracles, and with contrite heart hear what has been this day read to us.

And what is that? This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee. I told you the other day, that there are some who say that this is not the beginning. For what, says one, if 'Cana of Galilee' be added? This shows that this was 'the beginning' He made 'in Cana.' But on these points I would not venture to assert anything exactly. I before have shown that He began His miracles after His Baptism, and wrought no miracle before it; but whether of the miracles done after His Baptism, this or some other was the first, it seems to me unnecessary to assert positively.

And manifested forth His glory.

How? asks one, and in what way? For only the servants, the ruler of the feast, and the bridegroom, not the greater number of those present, gave heed to what was done. How then did he manifest forth His glory? He manifested it at least for His own part, and if all present hear not of the miracle at the time, they would hear of it afterwards, for unto the present time it is celebrated, and has not been unnoticed. That all did not know it on the same day is clear from what follows, for after having said that He manifested forth His glory, the Evangelist adds,

And His disciples believed on Him.

His disciples, who even before this regarded Him with wonder. Do you see that it was especially necessary to work the miracles at times when men were present of honest minds, and who would carefully give heed to what was done? For these would more readily believe, and attend more exactly to the circumstances. And how could He have become known without miracles? Because His doctrine and prophetic powers were sufficient to cause wonder in the souls of His hearers, so that they took heed to what He did with a right disposition, their minds being already well affected towards Him. And therefore in many other places the Evangelists say, that He did no miracle on account of the perversity of the men who dwelt there. Matthew 12:38; ch. 13:58, etc.

John 2:12

After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples; and they continued there not many days.

Wherefore comes He with His mother to Capernaum? For He has done no miracle there, and the inhabitants of that city were not of those who were rightminded towards Him, but of the utterly corrupt. And this Christ declared when He said, And thou, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell. Luke 10:15 Wherefore then goes He? I think it was, because He intended a little after to go up to Jerusalem, that He then went to Capernaum, to avoid leading about everywhere with Him, His mother and His brethren. And so, having departed and tarried a little while to honor His mother, He again commences His miracles after restoring to her home her who had borne Him. Therefore the Evangelist says, After not many days,

John 2:13

He went up to Jerusalem.

He received baptism then a few days before the passover. But on going up to Jerusalem, what did He, a deed full of high authority; for He cast out of the Temple those dealers and money changers, and those who sold doves, and oxen, and sheep, and who passed their time there for this purpose.

2. Another Evangelist writes, that as He cast them out, He said, Make not my Father's house a den of thieves, but this one,

John 2:16

(Make not My Father's house) a house of merchandise.

They do not in this contradict each other, but show that he did this a second time, and that both these expressions were not used on the same occasion, but that He acted thus once at the beginning of His ministry, and again when He had come to the very time of His Passion. Therefore, (on the latter occasion,) employing more strong expressions, He spoke of it as (being made) a den of thieves, but here at the commencement of His miracles He does not so, but uses a more gentle rebuke; from which it is probable that this took place a second time.

And wherefore, says one, did Christ do this same, and use such severity against these men, a thing which He is nowhere else seen to do, even when insulted and reviled, and called by them 'Samaritan' and 'demoniac'? For He was not even satisfied with words only, but took a scourge, and so cast them out. Yes, but it was when others were receiving benefit, that the Jews accused and raged against Him; when it was probable that they would have been made savage by His rebukes, they showed no such disposition towards Him, for they neither accused nor reviled Him. What say they?

John 2:18

What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that You do these things?

Do you see their excessive malice, and how the benefits done to others incensed them more (than reproofs)?

At one time then He said, that the Temple was made by them a den of thieves, showing that what they sold was gotten by theft, and rapine, and covetousness, and that they were rich through other men's calamities; at another, a house of merchandise, pointing to their shameless traffickings. But wherefore did He this? Since he was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many such things which were thought by them transgressions of the Law, in order that He might not seem to do this as though He had come to be some rival God and opponent of His Father, He takes occasion hence to correct any such suspicion of theirs. For One who had exhibited so much zeal for the House was not likely to oppose Him who was Lord of the House, and who was worshipped in it. No doubt even the former years during which He lived according to the Law, were sufficient to show His reverence for the Legislator, and that He came not to give contrary laws; yet since it was likely that those years were forgotten through lapse of time, as not having been known to all because He was brought up in a poor and mean dwelling, He afterwards does this in the presence of all, (for many were present because the feast was near at hand,) and at great risk. For he did not merely cast them out, but also overturned the tables, and poured out the money, giving them by this to understand, that He who threw Himself into danger for the good order of the House could never despise his Master. Had He acted as He did from hypocrisy, He should only have advised them; but to place Himself in danger was very daring. For it was no light thing to offer Himself to the anger of so many market-folk, to excite against Himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by His reproaches and His blows, this was not the action of a pretender, but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House.

And therefore not by His actions only, but by His words, He shows his agreement with the Father; for He says not the Holy House, but My Father's House. See, He even calls Him, Father, and they are not angry; they thought He spoke in a general way: but when He went on and spoke more plainly, so as to set before them the idea of His Equality, then they become angry.

And what say they? What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that You do these things? Alas for their utter madness! Was there need of a sign before they could cease their evil doings, and free the house of God from such dishonor? And was it not the greatest sign of His Excellence that He had gotten such zeal for that House? In fact, the well-disposed were distinguished by this very thing, for They, His disciples, it says,

John 2:17

Remembered that it is written, The zeal of your house has eaten me up.

But the Jews did not remember the Prophecy, and said, What sign showest Thou unto us? Psalm 69:9, both grieving that their shameful traffic was cut off, and expecting by these means to stop Him, and also desiring to challenge Him to a miracle, and to find fault with what He was doing. Wherefore He will not give them a sign; and before, when they came and asked Him, He made them the same answer, A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. Matthew 16:4 Only then the answer was clear, now it is more ambiguous. This He does on account of their extreme insensibility; for He who prevented them without their asking, and gave them signs, would never when they asked have turned away from them, had He not seen that their minds were wicked and false, and their intention treacherous. Think how full of wickedness the question itself was at the outset. When they ought to have applauded Him for His earnestness and zeal, when they ought to have been astonished that He cared so greatly for the House, they reproach Him, saying, that it was lawful to traffic, and unlawful for any to stop their traffic, except he should show them a sign. What says Christ?

John 2:19

Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

Many such sayings He utters which were not intelligible to His immediate hearers, but which were to be so to those that should come after. And wherefore does He this? In order that when the accomplishment of His prediction should have come to pass, He might be seen to have foreknown from the beginning what was to follow; which indeed was the case with this prophecy. For, says the Evangelist,

John 2:22

When He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

But at the time when this was spoken, the Jews were perplexed as to what it might mean, and cast about to discover, saying,

John 2:20

Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and will you rear it up in three days?

Forty and six years, they said, referring to the latter building, for the former was finished in twenty years' time. Ezra 6:15

3. Wherefore then did He not resolve the difficulty and say, I speak not of that Temple, but of My flesh? Why does the Evangelist, writing the Gospel at a later period, interpret the saying, and Jesus keep silence at the time? Why did He so keep silence? Because they would not have received His word; for if not even the disciples were able to understand the saying, much less were the multitudes. When, says the Evangelist, He was risen from the dead, then they remembered, and believed the Scripture and His word. There were two things that hindered them for the time, one the fact of the Resurrection, the other, the greater question whether He was God that dwelt within; of both which things He spoke darkly when He said, Destroy this Temple, and I will rear it up in three days. And this St. Paul declares to be no small proof of His Godhead, when he writes, Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead. Romans 1:4

But why does He both there, and here, and everywhere, give this for a sign, at one time saying, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you shall know that I Am John 8:28; at another, There shall no sign be given you but the sign of the prophet Jonas Matthew 12:39; and again in this place, In three days I will raise it up? Because what especially showed that He was not a mere man, was His being able to set up a trophy of victory over death, and so quickly to abolish His long enduring tyranny, and conclude that difficult war. Wherefore He says, Then you shall know. Then. When? When after My Resurrection I shall draw (all) the world to Me, then you shall know that I did these things as God, and Very Son of God, avenging the insult offered to My Father.

Why then, instead of saying, 'What need is there of signs to check evil deeds?' did He promise that He would give them a sign? Because by so doing He would have the more exasperated them; but in this way He rather astonished them. Still they made no answer to this, for He seemed to them to say what was incredible, so that they did not stay even to question Him upon it, but passed it by as impossible. Yet had they been wise, though it seemed to them at the time incredible, still when He wrought His many miracles they would then have come and questioned Him, would then have intreated that the difficulty might be resolved to them; but because they were foolish, they gave no heed at all to part of what was said, and part they heard with evil frame of mind. And therefore Christ spoke to them in an enigmatical way.

The question still remains, How was it that the disciples did not know that He must rise from the dead? It was, because they had not been vouchsafed the gift of the Spirit; and therefore, though they constantly heard His discourses concerning the Resurrection, they understood them not, but reasoned with themselves what this might be. For very strange and paradoxical was the assertion that one could raise himself, and would raise himself in such wise. And so Peter was rebuked, when, knowing nothing about the Resurrection, he said, Be it far from You. Matthew 16:22 And Christ did not reveal it clearly to them before the event, that they might not be offended at the very outset, being led to distrust His words on account of the great improbability of the thing, and because they did not yet clearly know Him, who He was. For no one could help believing what was proclaimed aloud by facts, while some would probably disbelieve what was told to them in words. Therefore He at first allowed the meaning of His words to be concealed; but when by their experience He had verified His sayings, He after that gave them understanding of His words, and such gifts of the Spirit that they received them all at once. He, says Jesus, shall bring all things to your remembrance. John 14:26 For they who in a single night cast off all respect for Him, and fled from and denied that they even knew Him, would scarcely have remembered what He had done and said during the whole time, unless they had enjoyed much grace of the Spirit.

But, says one, if they were to hear from the Spirit, why needed they to accompany Christ when they would not retain His words? Be cause the Spirit taught them not, but called to their mind what Christ had said before; and it contributes not a little to the glory of Christ, that they were referred to the remembrance of the words He had spoken to them. At the first then it was of the gift of God that the grace of the Spirit lighted upon them so largely and abundantly; but after that, it was of their own virtue that they retained the Gift. For they displayed a shining life, and much wisdom, and great labors, and despised this present life, and thought nothing of earthly things, but were above them all; and like a sort of light-winged eagle, soaring high by their works; reached to heaven itself, and by these possessed the unspeakable grace of the Spirit.

Let us then imitate them, and not quench our lamps, but keep them bright by alms-doing, for so is the light of this fire preserved. Let us collect the oil into our vessels while we are here, for we cannot buy it when we have departed to that other place, nor can we procure it elsewhere, save only at the hands of the poor. Let us therefore collect it thence very abundantly, if, at least, we desire to enter in with the Bridegroom. But if we do not this, we must remain without the bridechamber, for it is impossible, it is impossible, though we perform ten thousand other good deeds, to enter the portals of the Kingdom without alms-doing. Let us then show forth this very abundantly, that we мая enjoy those ineffable blessings; which мая it come to pass that we all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 24 on the Gospel of John

John 2:23

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast, many believed on Him.

1. Of the men of that time some clung to their error, others laid hold on the truth, while of these last, some having retained it for a little while again fell off from it. Alluding to these, Christ compared them to seeds not deeply sown, but having their roots upon the surface of the earth; and He said that they should quickly perish. And these the Evangelist has here pointed out to us, saying,

When He was in Jerusalem, at the Passover, in the feast, many believed on Him, when they saw the miracles which He did.

John 2:24

But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them.

For they were the more perfect among His disciples, who came to Him not only because of His miracles, but through His teaching also. The grosser sort the miracles attracted, but the better reasoners His prophecies and doctrines; and so they who were taken by His teaching were more steadfast than those attracted by His miracles. And Christ also called them blessed, saying, Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. John 20:29 But that these here mentioned were not real disciples, the following passage shows, for it says, Jesus did not commit Himself unto them. Wherefore? Because He knew all things,

John 2:25

And needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

The meaning is of this kind. He who dwells in men's hearts, and enters into their thoughts, took no heed of outward words; and knowing well that their warmth was but for a season, He placed not confidence in them as in perfect disciples, nor committed all His doctrines to them as though they had already become firm believers. Now, to know what is in the heart of men belongs to God alone, who has fashioned hearts one by one Psalm 33:15, Septuagint, for, says Solomon, You, even Thou only, know the hearts 1 Kings 8:39; He therefore needed not witnesses to learn the thoughts of His own creatures, and so He felt no confidence in them because of their mere, temporary belief. Men, who know neither the present nor the future, often tell and entrust all without any reserve to persons who approach them deceitfully and who shortly will fall off from them; but Christ did not so, for well He knew all their secret thoughts.

And many such now there are, who have indeed the name of faith, but are unstable, and easily led away; wherefore neither now does Christ commit Himself to them, but conceals from them many things; and just as we do not place confidence in mere acquaintances but in real friends, so also does Christ. Hear what He says to His disciples, Henceforth I call you not servants, you are My friends. c. xv. 14, 15 Whence is this and why? Because all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you. And therefore He gave no signs to the Jews who asked for them, because they asked tempting Him. Indeed the asking for signs is a practice of tempters both then and now; for even now there are some that seek them and say, Why do not miracles take place also at this present time? If you are faithful, as you ought to be, and lovest Christ as you ought to love Him, you have no need of signs, they are given to the unbelievers. How then, asks one, were they not given to the Jews? Given they certainly were; and if there were times when though they asked they did not receive them, it was because they asked them not that they might be delivered from their unbelief, but in order the more to confirm their wickedness.

John 3:1–2

And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus. The same came to Jesus by night and said to Him, 'Rabbi, we know that You are a Teacher come from God: for no man can do the miracles that You do, unless God is with him.'

This man appears also in the middle of the Gospel, making defense for Christ; for he says, Our law judges no man before it hear him John 7:51; and the Jews in anger replied to him, Search and look, for out of Galilee arises no prophet. Again after the crucifixion he bestowed great care upon the burial of the Lord's body: There came also, says the Evangelist, Nicodemus, which came to the Lord by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. John 19:39 And even now he was disposed towards Christ, but not as he ought, nor with proper sentiments respecting Him, for he was as yet entangled in Jewish infirmity. Wherefore he came by night, because he feared to do so by day. Yet not for this did the merciful God reject or rebuke him, or deprive him of His instruction, but even with much kindness conversed with him and disclosed to him very exalted doctrines, enigmatically indeed, but nevertheless He disclosed them. For far more deserving of pardon was he than those who acted thus through wickedness. They are entirely without excuse; but he, though he was liable to condemnation, yet was not so to an equal degree. How then does the Evangelist say nothing of the kind concerning him? He has said in another place, that of the rulers also many believed on Him, but because of the Jews they did not confess (Him), lest they should be put out of the synagogue John 12:42; but here he has implied the whole by mentioning his coming by night. What then says Nicodemus?

Rabbi, we know that You are a Teacher come from God: for no man can do the miracles that You do, except God be with him.

2. Nicodemus yet lingers below, has yet human thoughts concerning Him, and speaks of Him as of a Prophet, imagining nothing great from His miracles. We know, he says, that You are a Teacher come from God. Why then do you come by night and secretly, to Him that speaks the things of God, to Him who comes from God? Why do you not converse with Him openly? But Jesus said nothing like this to him, nor did He rebuke him; for, says the Prophet, A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench; He shall not strive nor cry Isaiah 42:2–3; as quoted Matthew 12:19–20: and again He says Himself, I came not to condemn the world, but to save the world. John 12:47

No man can do these miracles, except God be with him.

Still here Nicodemus speaks like the heretics, in saying, that He has a power working within Him, and has need of the aid of others to do as He did. What then says Christ? Observe His exceeding condescension. He refrained for a while from saying, I need not the help of others, but do all things with power, for I am the Very Son of God, and have the same power as My Father, because this would have been too hard for His hearer; for I say now what I am always saying, that what Christ desired was, not so much for a while to reveal His own Dignity, as to persuade men that He did nothing contrary to His Father. And therefore in many places he appears in words confined by limits, but in His actions He does not so. For when He works a miracle, He does all with power, saying, I will, be thou clean. Matthew 8:3 Talitha, arise. Mark 5:41; not verbally quoted Stretch forth your hand. Mark 3:5 Your sins be forgiven you. Matthew 9:2 Peace, be still. Mark 4:39 Take up your bed, and go unto your house. Matthew 9:6 Thou foul spirit, I say unto you, come out of him. Mark 9:25; not verbally quoted Be it unto you even as you will. Matthew 15:28 If any one say (anything) unto you, you shall say, The Lord has need of him. Mark 11:3 This day shall you be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43 You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not kill; but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment. Matthew 5:21–22 Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men. Mark 1:17 And everywhere we observe that His authority is great; for in His actions no one could find fault with what was done. How was it possible? Had His words not come to pass, nor been accomplished as He commanded, any one might have said that they were the commands of a madman; but since they did come to pass, the reality of their accomplishment stopped men's mouths even against their will. But with regard to His discourses, they might often in their insolence charge Him with madness. Wherefore now in the case of Nicodemus, He utters nothing openly, but by dark sayings leads him up from his low thoughts, teaching him, that He has sufficient power in Himself to show forth miracles; for that His Father begot Him Perfect and All-sufficient, and without any imperfection.

But let us see how He effects this. Nicodemus says, Rabbi, we know that You are a Teacher come from God, for no man can do the miracles that You do, except God be with him. He thought he had said something great when he had spoken thus of Christ. What then says Christ? To show that he had not yet set foot even on the threshold of right knowledge, nor stood in the porch, but was yet wandering somewhere without the palace, both he and whoever else should say the like, and that he had not so much as glanced towards true knowledge when he held such an opinion of the Only-Begotten, what says He?

John 3:3

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.

That is, Unless you are born again and receive the right doctrines, you are wandering somewhere outside, and are far from the Kingdom of heaven. But He does not speak so plainly as this. In order to make the saying less hard to bear, He does not plainly direct it at him, but speaks indefinitely, Unless a man be born again: all but saying, both you and any other, who мая have such opinions concerning Me, are somewhere outside the Kingdom. Had He not spoken from a desire to establish this, His answer would have been suitable to what had been said. Now the Jews, if these words had been addressed to them, would have derided Him and departed; but Nicodemus shows here also his desire of instruction. And this is why in many places Christ speaks obscurely, because He wishes to rouse His hearers to ask questions, and to render them more attentive. For that which is said plainly often escapes the hearer, but what is obscure renders him more active and zealous. Now what He says, is something like this: If you are not born again, if you partake not of the Spirit which is by the washing of Regeneration, you can not have a right opinion of Me, for the opinion which you have is not spiritual, but carnal. Titus 3:5 But He did not speak thus, as refusing to confound one who had brought such as he had, and who had spoken to the best of his ability; and He leads him unsuspectedly up to greater knowledge, saying, Unless a man be born again. The word again, in this place, some understand to mean from heaven, others, from the beginning. It is impossible, says Christ, for one not so born to see the Kingdom of God; in this pointing to Himself, and declaring that there is another beside the natural sight, and that we have need of other eyes to behold Christ. Having heard this . . .

John 3:4

Nicodemus says, How can a man be born when he is old?

Do you call Him Master, do you say that He is come from God, and yet do you not receive His words, but use to your Teacher a manner of speaking which expresses much perplexity? For the How, is the doubting question of those who have no strong belief, but who are yet of the earth. Therefore Sarah laughed when she had said, How? And many others having asked this question, have fallen from the faith.

3. And thus heretics continue in their heresy, because they frequently make this enquiry, saying, some of them, How was He begotten? others, How was He made flesh? and subjecting that Infinite Essence to the weakness of their own reasonings. Knowing which, we ought to avoid this unseasonable curiosity, for they who search into these matters shall, without learning the How, fall away from the right faith. On this account Nicodemus, being in doubt, enquires the manner in which this can be, (for he understood that the words spoken referred to himself,) is confused, and dizzy, and in perplexity, having come as to a man, and hearing more than man's words, and such as no one ever yet had heard; and for a while he rouses himself at the sublimity of the sayings, but yet is in darkness, and unstable, borne about in every direction, and continually falling away from the faith. And therefore he perseveres in proving the impossibility, so as to provoke Him to clearer teaching.

Can a man, he says, enter into his mother's womb, and be born?

Do you see how when one commits spiritual things to his own reasonings, he speaks ridiculously, seems to be trifling, or to be drunken, when he pries into what has been said beyond what seems good to God, and admits not the submission of faith? Nicodemus heard of the spiritual Birth, yet perceived it not as spiritual, but dragged down the words to the lowness of the flesh, and made a doctrine so great and high depend upon physical consequence. And so he invents frivolities, and ridiculous difficulties. Wherefore Paul said, The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit. 1Corinthians 2:14 Yet even in this he preserved his reverence for Christ, for he did not mock at what had been said, but, deeming it impossible, held his peace. There were two difficulties; a Birth of this kind, and the Kingdom; for neither had the name of the Kingdom ever been heard among the Jews, nor of a Birth like this. But he stops for a while at the first, which most astonished his mind.

Let us then, knowing this, not enquire into things relating to God by reasoning, nor bring heavenly matters under the rule of earthly consequences, nor subject them to the necessity of nature; but let us think of all reverently, believing as the Scriptures have said; for the busy and curious person gains nothing, and besides not finding what he seeks, shall suffer extreme punishment. You have heard, that (the Father) begot (the Son): believe what you have heard; but do ask not, How, and so take away the Generation; to do so would be extreme folly. For if this man, because, on hearing of a Generation, not that ineffable Generation, but this which is by grace, he conceived nothing great concerning it, but human and earthly thoughts, was therefore darkened and in doubt, what punishment must they deserve, who are busy and curious about that most awful Generation, which transcends all reason and intellect? For nothing causes such dizziness as human reasoning, all whose words are of earth, and which cannot endure to be enlightened from above. Earthly reasonings are full of mud, and therefore need we streams from heaven, that when the mud has settled, the clearer portion мая rise and mingle with the heavenly lessons; and this comes to pass, when we present an honest soul and an upright life. For certainly it is possible for the intellect to be darkened, not only by unseasonable curiosity, but also by corrupt manners; wherefore Paul has said to the Corinthians, I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able, for you are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal? 1Corinthians 3:2 And also in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in many places, one мая see Paul asserting that this is the cause of evil doctrines; for that the soul possessed by passions cannot behold anything great or noble, but as if darkened by a sort of film suffers most grievous dimsightedness.

Let us then cleanse ourselves, let us kindle the light of knowledge, let us not sow among thorns. What the thorns are, you know, though we tell you not; for often you have heard Christ call the cares of this present life, and the deceitfulness of riches, by this name. Matthew 13:22 And with reason. For as thorns are unfruitful, so are these things; as thorns tear those that handle them, so do these passions; as thorns are readily caught by the fire, and hateful by the husbandman, so too are the things of the world; as in thorns, wild beasts, and snakes, and scorpions hide themselves, so do they in the deceitfulness of riches. But let us kindle the fire of the Spirit, that we мая consume the thorns, and drive away the beasts, and make the field clear for the husbandman; and after cleansing it, let us water it with the streams of the Spirit, let us plant the fruitful olive, that most kindly of trees, the evergreen, the light-giving, the nutritious, the wholesome. All these qualities has almsgiving, which is, as it were, a seal on those that possess it. This plant not even death when it comes causes to wither, but ever it stands enlightening the mind, feeding the sinews of the soul, and rendering its strength mightier. And if we constantly possess it, we shall be able with confidence to behold the Bridegroom, and to enter into the bridal chamber; to which мая we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 25 on the Gospel of John

John 3:5

Verily I say unto you, Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

1. Little children who go daily to their teachers receive their lessons, and repeat them, and never cease from this kind of acquisition, but sometimes employ nights as well as days, and this they are compelled to do for perishable and transient things. Now we do not ask of you who have come to age such toil as you require of your children; for not every day, but two days only in the week do we exhort you to hearken to our words, and only for a short portion of the day, that your task мая be an easy one. For the same reason also we divide to you in small portions what is written in Scripture, that you мая be able easily to receive and lay them up in the storehouses of your minds, and take such pains to remember them all, as to be able exactly to repeat them to others yourselves, unless any one be sleepy, and dull, and more idle than a little child.

Let us now attend to the sequel of what has been before said. When Nicodemus fell into error and wrested the words of Christ to the earthly birth, and said that it was not possible for an old man to be born again, observe how Christ in answer more clearly reveals the manner of the Birth, which even thus had difficulty for the carnal enquirer, yet still was able to raise the hearer from his low opinion of it. What says He? Verily I say unto you, Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. What He declares is this: You say that it is impossible, I say that it is so absolutely possible as to be necessary, and that it is not even possible otherwise to be saved. For necessary things God has made exceedingly easy also. The earthly birth which is according to the flesh, is of the dust, and therefore heaven is walled against it, for what has earth in common with heaven? But that other, which is of the Spirit, easily unfolds to us the arches above. Hear, you as many as are unilluminated, shudder, groan, fearful is the threat, fearful the sentence. It is not (possible), He says, for one not born of water and the Spirit, to enter into the Kingdom of heaven; because he wears the raiment of death, of cursing, of perdition, he has not yet received his Lord's token, he is a stranger and an alien, he has not the royal watchword. Except, He says, a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

Yet even thus Nicodemus did not understand. Nothing is worse than to commit spiritual things to argument; it was this that would not allow him to suppose anything sublime and great. This is why we are called faithful, that having left the weakness of human reasonings below, we мая ascend to the height of faith, and commit most of our blessings to her teaching; and if Nicodemus had done this, the thing would not have been thought by him impossible. What then does Christ? To lead him away from his groveling imagination, and to show that He speaks not of the earthly birth, He says, Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven. This He spoke, willing to draw him to the faith by the terror of the threat, and to persuade him not to deem the thing impossible, and taking pains to move him from his imagination as to the carnal birth. I mean, says He, another Birth, O Nicodemus. Why do you draw down the saying to earth? Why do you subject the matter to the necessity of nature? This Birth is too high for such pangs as these; it has nothing in common with you; it is indeed called 'birth,' but in name only has it anything in common, in reality it is different. Remove yourself from that which is common and familiar; a different kind of childbirth bring I into the world; in another manner will I have men to be generated: I have come to bring a new manner of Creation. I formed (man) of earth and water; but that which was formed was unprofitable, the vessel was wrenched awry; I will no more form them of earth and water, but 'of water' and 'of the Spirit.'

And if any one asks, How of water? I also will ask, How of earth? How was the clay separated into different parts? How was the material uniform, (it was earth only,) and the things made from it, various and of every kind? Whence are the bones, and sinews, and arteries, and veins? Whence the membranes, and vessels of the organs, the cartilages, the tissues, the liver, spleen, and heart? Whence the skin, and blood, and mucus, and bile? Whence so great powers, whence such varied colors? These belong not to earth or clay. How does the earth, when it receives the seeds, cause them to shoot, while the flesh receiving them wastes them? How does the earth nourish what is put into it, while the flesh is nourished by these things, and does not nourish them? The earth, for instance, receives water, and makes it wine; the flesh often receives wine, and changes it into water. Whence then is it clear that these things are formed of earth, when the nature of the earth is, according to what has been said, contrary to that of the body? I cannot discover by reasoning, I accept it by faith only. If then things which take place daily, and which we handle, require faith, much more do those which are more mysterious and more spiritual than these. For as the earth, which is soulless and motionless, was empowered by the will of God, and such wonders were worked in it; much more when the Spirit is present with the water, do all those things so strange and transcending reason, easily take place.

2. Do not then disbelieve these things, because you see them not; thou dost not see your soul, and yet you believe that you have a soul, and that it is a something different besides the body.

But Christ led him not in by this example, but by another; the instance of the soul, though it is incorporeal, He did not adduce for that reason, because His hearer's disposition was as yet too dull. He sets before him another, which has no connection with the density of solid bodies, yet does not reach so high as to the incorporeal natures; that is, the movement of wind. He begins at first with water, which is lighter than earth, but denser than air. And as in the beginning earth was the subject material, but the whole was of Him who molded it; so also now water is the subject material, and the whole is of the grace of the Spirit: then, man became a living soul, Genesis 2:7; now he becomes a quickening Spirit. But great is the difference between the two. Soul affords not life to any other than him in whom it is; Spirit not only lives, but affords life to others also. Thus, for instance, the Apostles even raised the dead. Then, man was formed last, when the creation had been accomplished; now, on the contrary, the new man is formed before the new creation; he is born first, and then the world is fashioned anew. 1Corinthians 15:45 And as in the beginning He formed him entire, so He creates him entire now. Then He said, Let us make for him a help Genesis 2:18, Septuagint, but here He said nothing of the kind. What other help shall he need, who has received the gift of the Spirit? What further need of assistance has he, who belongs to the Body of Christ? Then He made man in the image of God, now He has united him with God Himself; then He bade him rule over the fishes and beasts, now He has exalted our first-fruits above the heavens; then He gave him a garden for his abode, now He has opened heaven to us; then man was formed on the sixth day, when the world was almost finished; but now on the first, at the very beginning, at the time when light was made before. From all which it is plain, that the things accomplished belonged to another and a better life, and to a condition having no end.

The first creation then, that of Adam, was from earth; the next, that of the woman, from his rib; the next, that of Abel, from seed; yet we cannot arrive at the comprehension of any one of these, nor prove the circumstances by argument, though they are of a most earthly nature; how then shall we be able to give account of the unseen generation by Baptism, which is far more exalted than these, or to require arguments for that strange and marvelous Birth? Since even Angels stand by while that Generation takes place, but they could not tell the manner of that marvelous working, they stand by only, not performing anything, but beholding what takes place. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, works all. Let us then believe the declaration of God; that is more trustworthy than actual seeing. The sight often is in error, it is impossible that God's Word should fail; let us then believe it; that which called the things that were not into existence мая well be trusted when it speaks of their nature. What then says it? That what is effected is a Generation . If any ask, How, stop his mouth with the declaration of God, which is the strongest and a plain proof. If any enquire, Why is water included? let us also in return ask, Wherefore was earth employed at the beginning in the creation of man? for that it was possible for God to make man without earth, is quite plain to every one. Be not then over-curious.

That the need of water is absolute and indispensable, you мая learn in this way. On one occasion, when the Spirit had flown down before the water was applied, the Apostle did not stay at this point, but, as though the water were necessary and not superfluous, observe what he says; Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? Acts 10:47

What then is the use of the water? This too I will tell you hereafter, when I reveal to you the hidden mystery. There are also other points of mystical teaching connected with the matter, but for the present I will mention to you one out of many. What is this one? In Baptism are fulfilled the pledges of our covenant with God; burial and death, resurrection and life; and these take place all at once. For when we immerse our heads in the water, the old man is buried as in a tomb below, and wholly sunk forever; then as we raise them again, the new man rises in its stead. As it is easy for us to dip and to lift our heads again, so it is easy for God to bury the old man, and to show forth the new. And this is done thrice, that you мая learn that the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost fulfills all this. To show that what we say is no conjecture, hear Paul saying, We are buried with Him by Baptism into death: and again, Our old man is crucified with Him: and again, We have been planted together in the likeness of His death. Romans 6:4–6 And not only is Baptism called a cross, but the cross is called Baptism. With the Baptism, says Christ, that I am baptized withal shall you be baptized Mark 10:39: and, I have a Baptism to be baptized with Luke 12:50 (which you know not); for as we easily dip and lift our heads again, so He also easily died and rose again when He willed or rather much more easily, though He tarried the three days for the dispensation of a certain mystery.

3. Let us then who have been deemed worthy of such mysteries show forth a life worthy of the Gift, that is, a most excellent conversation; and do ye who have not yet been deemed worthy, do all things that you мая be so, that we мая be one body, that we мая be brethren. For as long as we are divided in this respect, though a man be father, or son, or brother, or anything else, he is no true kinsman, as being cut off from that relationship which is from above. What advantages it to be bound by the ties of earthly family, if we are not joined by those of the spiritual? What profits nearness of kin on earth, if we are to be strangers in heaven? For the Catechumen is a stranger to the Faithful. He has not the same Head, he has not the same Father, he has not the same City, nor Food, nor Raiment, nor Table, nor House, but all are different; all are on earth to the former, to the latter all are in heaven. One has Christ for his King; the other, sin and the devil; the food of one is Christ, of the other, that meat which decays and perishes; one has worms' work for his raiment, the other the Lord of angels; heaven is the city of one, earth of the other. Since then we have nothing in common, in what, tell me, shall we hold communion? Did we remove the same pangs, did we come forth from the same womb? This has nothing to do with that most perfect relationship. Let us then give diligence that we мая become citizens of the city which is above. How long do we tarry over the border, when we ought to reclaim our ancient country? We risk no common danger; for if it should come to pass, (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated, though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be no other than hell, and the venomous worm, and fire unquenchable, and bonds indissoluble. But God grant that none of those who hear these words experience that punishment! And this will be, if having been deemed worthy of the sacred mysteries, we build upon that foundation gold, and silver, and precious stones; for so after our departure hence we shall be able to appear in that place rich, when we leave not our riches here, but transport them to inviolable treasuries by the hands of the poor, when we lend to Christ. Many are our debts there, not of money, but of sins; let us then lend Him our riches, that we мая receive pardon for our sins; for He it is that judges. Let us not neglect Him here when He hungers, that He мая ever feed us there. Here let us clothe Him, that He leave us not bare of the safety which is from Him. If here we give Him drink, we shall not with the rich man say, Send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he мая drop water on my broiling tongue. If here we receive Him into our house, there He will prepare many mansions for us; if we go to Him in prison, He too will free us from our bonds; if we take Him in when He is a stranger, He will not suffer us to be strangers to the Kingdom of heaven, but will give us a portion in the City which is above; if we visit Him when He is sick, He also will quickly deliver us from our infirmities.

Let us then, as receiving great things though we give but little, still give the little that we мая gain the great. While it is yet time, let us sow, that we мая reap. When the winter overtakes us, when the sea is no longer navigable, we are no longer masters of this traffic. But when shall the winter be? When that great and manifest Day is at hand. Then we shall cease to sail this great and broad sea, for such the present life resembles. Now is the time of sowing, then of harvest and of gain. If a man puts not in his seed at seed time and sows in harvest, besides that he effects nothing, he will be ridiculous. But if the present is seed time, it follows that it is a time not for gathering together, but for scattering; let us then scatter, that we мая gather in, and not seek to gather in now, lest we lose our harvest; for, as I said, this season summons us to sow, and spend, and lay out, not to collect and lay by. Let us not then give up the opportunity, but let us put in abundant seed, and spare none of our stores, that we мая receive them again with abundant recompense, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, world without end. Amen.

Homily 26 on the Gospel of John

John 3:6

That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

1. Great mysteries are they, of which the Only-begotten Son of God has counted us worthy; great, and such as we were not worthy of, but such as it was meet for Him to give. For if one reckon our desert, we were not only unworthy of the gift, but also liable to punishment and vengeance; but He, because He looked not to this, not only delivered us from punishment, but freely gave us a life much more bright than the first, introduced us into another world, made us another creature; If any man be in Christ, says Paul, he is a new creature. 2Corinthians 5:17 What kind of new creature? Hear Christ Himself declare; Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Paradise was entrusted to us, and we were shown unworthy to dwell even there, yet He has exalted us to heaven. In the first things we were found unfaithful, and He has committed to us greater; we could not refrain from a single tree, and He has provided for us the delights above; we kept not our place in Paradise, and He has opened to us the doors of heaven. Well said Paul, O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Romans 11:33 There is no longer a mother, or pangs, or sleep, or coming together, and embracings of bodies; henceforth all the fabric of our nature is framed above, of the Holy Ghost and water. The water is employed, being made the Birth to him who is born; what the womb is to the embryo, the water is to the believer; for in the water he is fashioned and formed. At first it was said, Let the waters bring forth the creeping things that have life Genesis 1:20, Septuagint; but from the time that the Lord entered the streams of Jordan, the water no longer gives forth the creeping thing that has life, but reasonable and Spirit-bearing souls; and what has been said of the sun, that he is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber Psalm 18:6, we мая now rather say of the faithful, for they send forth rays far brighter than he. That which is fashioned in the womb requires time, not so that in water, but all is done in a single moment. Here our life is perishable, and takes its origin from the decay of other bodies; that which is to be born comes slowly, (for such is the nature of bodies, they acquire perfection by time,) but it is not so with spiritual things. And why? Because the things made are formed perfect from the beginning.

When Nicodemus still hearing these things was troubled, see how Christ partly opens to him the secret of this mystery, and makes that clear which was for a while obscure to him. That which is born, says He, of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. He leads him away from all the things of sense, and suffers him not vainly to pry into the mysteries revealed with his fleshly eyes; We speak not, says He, of flesh, but of Spirit, O Nicodemus, (by this word He directs him heavenward for a while,) seek then nothing relating to things of sense; never can the Spirit appear to those eyes, think not that the Spirit brings forth the flesh. How then, perhaps one мая ask, was the Flesh of the Lord brought forth? Not of the Spirit only, but of flesh; as Paul declares, when he says, Made of a woman, made under the Law Galatians 4:4; for the Spirit fashioned Him not indeed out of nothing, (for what need was there then of a womb?) but from the flesh of a Virgin. How, I cannot explain unto you; yet it was done, that no one might suppose that what was born is alien to our nature. For if even when this has taken place there are some who disbelieve in such a birth, into what impiety would they not have fallen had He not partaken of the Virgin's flesh.

That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do you see the dignity of the Spirit? It appears performing the work of God; for above he said of some, that, they were begotten of God, John 1:13, here He says, that the Spirit begets them.

That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. His meaning is of this kind; He that is born of the Spirit is spiritual. For the Birth which He speaks of here is not that according to essence, but according to honor and grace. Now if the Son is so born also, in what shall He be superior to men so born? And how is He, Only-begotten? For I too am born of God, though not of His Essence, and if He also is not of His Essence, how in this respect does He differ from us? Nay, He will then be found to be inferior to the Spirit; for birth of this kind is by the grace of the Spirit. Needs He then the help of the Spirit that He мая continue a Son? And in what do these differ from Jewish doctrines?

Christ then having said, He that is born of the Spirit is spirit, when He saw him again confused, leads His discourse to an example from sense, saying,

John 3:7–8

Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again. The wind blows where it lists.

For by saying, Marvel not, He indicates the confusion of his soul, and leads him to something lighter than body. He had already led him away from fleshly things, by saying, That which is born of the Spirit is spirit; but when Nicodemus knew not what that which is born of the Spirit is spirit meant, He next carries him to another figure, not bringing him to the density of bodies, nor yet speaking of things purely incorporeal, (for had he heard he could not have received this,) but having found a something between what is and what is not body, namely, the motion of the wind, He brings him to that next. And He says of it,

You hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes.

Though He says, it blows where it lists, He says it not as if the wind had any power of choice, but declaring that its natural motion cannot be hindered, and is with power. For Scripture knows how to speak thus of things without life, as when it says, The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly. Romans 8:20 The expression therefore, blows where it lists, is that of one who would show that it cannot be restrained, that it is spread abroad everywhere, and that none can hinder its passing hither and there, but that it goes abroad with great might, and none is able to turn aside its violence.

2. And you hear its voice, (that is, its rustle, its noise,) but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Here is the conclusion of the whole matter. If, says He, you know not how to explain the motion nor the path of this wind which you perceive by hearing and touch, why are you over-anxious about the working of the Divine Spirit, when you understand not that of the wind, though you hear its voice? The expression, blows where it lists, is also used to establish the power of the Comforter; for if none can hold the wind, but it moves where it lists, much less will the laws of nature, or limits of bodily generation, or anything of the like kind, be able to restrain the operations of the Spirit.

That the expression, you hear its voice, is used respecting the wind, is clear from this circumstance; He would not, when conversing with an unbeliever and one unacquainted with the operation of the Spirit, have said, You hear its voice. As then the wind is not visible, although it utters a sound, so neither is the birth of that which is spiritual visible to our bodily eyes; yet the wind is a body, although a very subtle one; for whatever is the object of sense is body. If then you do not complain because you cannot see this body, and do not on this account disbelieve, why do you, when you hear of the Spirit, hesitate and demand such exact accounts, although you act not so in the case of a body? What then does Nicodemus? Still he continues in his low Jewish opinion, and that too when so clear an example has been mentioned to him. Wherefore when he again says doubtingly,

John 3:9–10

How can these things be? Christ now speaks to him more chidingly; Are you a master in Israel, and know not these things?

Observe how He nowhere accuses the man of wickedness, but only of weakness and simplicity. And what, one мая ask, has this birth in common with Jewish matters? Tell me rather what has it that is not in common with them? For the first-created man, and the woman formed from his side, and the barren women, and the things accomplished by water, I mean what relates to the fountain on which Elisha made the iron tool to swim, to the Red Sea which the Jews passed over, to the pool which the Angel troubled, to Naaman the Syrian who was cleansed in Jordan, all these proclaimed beforehand, as by a figure, the Birth and the purification which were to be. And the words of the Prophet allude to the manner of this Birth, as, It shall be announced unto the Lord a generation which comes, and they shall announce His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, whom the Lord has made Psalm 22:30; 30:31, Septuagint; and, Your youth shall be renewed as an eagle's Psalm 103:5, Septuagint; and, Shine, O Jerusalem; behold, Your King comes! Isaiah 60:1; Zechariah 9:9; and, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven. Psalm 32:1, Septuagint Isaac also was a type of this Birth. For tell me, Nicodemus, how was he born? Was it according to the law of nature? By no means; the mode of his generation was midway between this of which we speak and the natural; the natural, because he was begotten by cohabitation; the other, because he was begotten not of blood, (but by the will of God.) I shall show that these figures proclaimed beforehand not only this birth, but also that from the Virgin. For, because no one would easily have believed that a virgin could bear a child, barren women first did so, then such as were not only barren, but aged also. That a woman should be made from a rib was indeed far more wonderful than that the barren should conceive; but because that was of early and old time, another figure, new and fresh, was given, that of the barren women; to prepare the way for belief in the Virgin's travail. To remind him then of these things, Jesus said, Are you a master in Israel, and know not these things?

John 3:11

We speak that We do know, and testify that We have seen, and none receives Our witness.

This He added, making His words credible by another argument, and condescending in His speech to the other's infirmity.

3. And what is this that He says, We speak that We do know, and testify that We have seen? Because with us the sight is the most trustworthy of the senses, and if we desire to gain a person's belief, we speak thus, that we saw it with our eyes, not that we know it by hearsay; Christ therefore speaks to him rather after the manner of men, gaining belief for His words by this means also. And that this is so, and that He desires to establish nothing else, and refers not to sensual vision, is clear from this; after saying, That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, He adds, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. Now this (of the Spirit) was not yet born ; how then says He, what we have seen? Is it not plain that He speaks of a knowledge not otherwise than exact?

And none receives our witness. The expression we know, He uses then either concerning Himself and His Father, or concerning Himself alone; and no man receives, is the expression not of one displeased, but of one who declares a fact: for He said not, What can be more senseless than you who receive not what is so exactly declared by us? but displaying all gentleness, both by His works and His words, He uttered nothing like this; mildly and kindly He foretold what should come to pass, so guiding us too to all gentleness, and teaching us when we converse with any and do not persuade them, not to be annoyed or made savage; for it is impossible for one out of temper to accomplish his purpose, he must make him to whom he speaks still more incredulous. Wherefore we must abstain from anger, and make our words in every way credible by avoiding not only wrath, but also loud speaking for loud speaking is the fuel of passion.

Let us then bind the horse, that we мая subdue the rider; let us clip the wings of our wrath, so the evil shall no more rise to a height. A keen passion is anger, keen, and skillful to steal our souls; therefore we must on all sides guard against its entrance. It were strange that we should be able to tame wild beasts, and yet should neglect our own savage minds. Wrath is a fierce fire, it devours all things; it harms the body, it destroys the soul, it makes a man deformed and ugly to look upon; and if it were possible for an angry person to be visible to himself at the time of his anger, he would need no other admonition, for nothing is more displeasing than an angry countenance. Anger is a kind of drunkenness, or rather it is more grievous than drunkenness, and more pitiable than (possession of) a dæmon. But if we be careful not to be loud in speech, we shall find this the best path to sobriety of conduct. And therefore Paul would take away clamor as well as anger, when he says, Let all anger and clamor be put away from you. Ephesians 4:31 Let us then obey this teacher of all wisdom, and when we are angry with our servants, let us consider our own trespasses, and be ashamed at their forbearance. For when you are insolent, and your servant bears your insults in silence, when you act unseemly, he like a wise man, take this instead of any other warning. Though he is your servant, he is still a man, has an immortal soul, and has been honored with the same gifts as you by your common Lord. And if he who is our equal in more important and more spiritual things, on account of some poor and trifling human superiority so meekly bears our injuries, what pardon can we deserve, what excuse can we make, who cannot, or rather will not, be as wise through fear of God, as he is through fear of us? Considering then all these things, and calling to mind our own transgressions, and the common nature of man, let us be careful at all times to speak gently, that being humble in heart we мая find rest for our souls, both that which now is, and that which is to come; which мая we all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 27 on the Gospel of John

John 3:12–13

If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven.

1. What I have often said I shall now repeat, and shall not cease to say. What is that? It is that Jesus, when about to touch on sublime doctrines, often contains Himself by reason of the infirmity of His hearers, and dwells not for a continuance on subjects worthy of His greatness, but rather on those which partake of condescension. For the sublime and great, being but once uttered, is sufficient to establish that character, as far as we are able to hear it; but unless more lowly sayings, and such as are near to the comprehension of the hearers, were continually uttered, the more sublime would not readily take hold on a groveling listener. And therefore of the sayings of Christ more are lowly than sublime. But yet that this again мая not work another mischief, by detaining the disciple here below, He does not merely set before men His inferior sayings without first telling them why He utters them; as, in fact, He has done in this place. For when He had said what He did concerning Baptism, and the Generation by grace which takes place on earth, being desirous to admit them to that His own mysterious and incomprehensible Generation, He holds it in suspense for a while, and admits them not, and then tells them His reason for not admitting them. What is that? It is, the dullness and infirmity of His hearers. And referring to this He added the words, If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell you of heavenly things? so that wherever He says anything ordinary and humble, we must attribute this to the infirmity of His audience.

The expression earthly things, some say is here used of the wind; that is, If I have given you an example from earthly things, and you did not even so believe, how shall you be able to learn sublimer things? And wonder not if He here call Baptism an earthly thing, for He calls it so, either from its being performed on earth, or so naming it in comparison with that His own most awful Generation. For though this Generation of ours is heavenly, yet compared with that true Generation which is from the Substance of the Father, it is earthly.

He does not say, You have not understood, but, You have not believed; for when a man is ill disposed towards those things which it is possible to apprehend by the intellect, and will not readily receive them, he мая justly be charged with want of understanding; but when he receives not things which cannot be apprehended by reasoning, but only by faith, the charge against him is no longer want of understanding, but unbelief. Leading him therefore away from enquiring by reasonings into what had been said, He touches him more severely by charging him with want of faith. If now we must receive our own Generation by faith, what do they deserve who are busy with their reasonings about that of the Only-Begotten?

But perhaps some мая ask, And if the hearers were not to believe these sayings, wherefore were they uttered? Because though they believed not, those who came after would believe and profit by them. Touching him therefore very severely, Christ goes on to show that He knows not these things only, but others also, far more and greater than these. And this He declared by what follows, when He said, And no man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven.

And what manner of sequel is this? asks one. The very closest, and entirely in unison with what has gone before. For since Nicodemus had said, We know that You are a teacher come from God, on this very point He sets him right, all but saying, Think Me not a teacher in such manner as were the many of the prophets who were of earth, for I have come from heaven (but) now. None of the prophets has ascended up there, but I dwell there. Do you see how even that which appears very exalted is utterly unworthy of his greatness? For not in heaven only is He, but everywhere, and He fills all things; but yet He speaks according to the infirmity of His hearer, desiring to lead him up little by little. And in this place He called not the flesh Son of Man, but He now named, so to speak, His entire Self from the inferior substance; indeed this is His wont, to call His whole Person often from His Divinity, and often from His humanity.

John 3:14

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.

This again seems to depend upon what has gone before, and this too has a very close connection with it. For after having spoken of the very great benefaction that had come to man by Baptism, He proceeds to mention another benefaction, which was the cause of this, and not inferior to it; namely, that by the Cross. As also Paul arguing with the Corinthians sets down these benefits together, when he says, Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul? for these two things most of all declare His unspeakable love, that He both suffered for His enemies, and that having died for His enemies, He freely gave to them by Baptism entire remission of their sins.

2. But wherefore did He not say plainly, I am about to be crucified, instead of referring His hearers to the ancient type? First, that you мая learn that old things are akin to new, and that the one are not alien to the other; next, that you мая know that He came not unwillingly to His Passion; and again, besides these reasons, that you мая learn that no harm arises to Him from the Fact, and that to many there springs from it salvation. For, that none мая say, And how is it possible that they who believe in one crucified should be saved, when he himself is holden of death? He leads us to the ancient story. Now if the Jews, by looking to the brazen image of a serpent, escaped death, much rather will they who believe in the Crucified, with good reason enjoy a far greater benefit. For this takes place, not through the weakness of the Crucified, or because the Jews are stronger than He, but because God loved the world, therefore is His living Temple fastened to the Cross.

John 3:15

That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Do you see the cause of the Crucifixion, and the salvation which is by it? Do you see the relationship of the type to the reality? There the Jews escaped death, but the temporal, here believers the eternal; there the hanging serpent healed the bites of serpents, here the Crucified Jesus cured the wounds inflicted by the spiritual dragon; there he who looked with his bodily eyes was healed, here he who beholds with the eyes of his understanding put off all his sins; there that which hung was brass fashioned into the likeness of a serpent, here it was the Lord's Body, built by the Spirit; there a serpent bit and a serpent healed, here death destroyed and a Death saved. But the snake which destroyed had venom, that which saved was free from venom; and so again was it here, for the death which slew us had sin with it, as the serpent had venom; but the Lord's Death was free from all sin, as the brazen serpent from venom. For, says Peter, He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. 1 Peter 2:22 And this is what Paul also declares, And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:16 For as some noble champion by lifting on high and dashing down his antagonist, renders his victory more glorious, so Christ, in the sight of all the world, cast down the adverse powers, and having healed those who were smitten in the wilderness, delivered them from all venomous beasts that vexed them, by being hung upon the Cross. Yet He did not say, must hang, but, must be lifted up Acts 28:4; for He used this which seemed the milder term, on account of His hearer, and because it was proper to the type.

John 3:16

God so loved the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

What He says, is of this kind: Marvel not that I am to be lifted up that you мая be saved, for this seems good to the Father, and He has so loved you as to give His Son for slaves, and ungrateful slaves. Yet a man would not do this even for a friend, nor readily even for a righteous man; as Paul has declared when he said, Scarcely for a righteous man will one die. Romans 5:7 Now he spoke at greater length, as speaking to believers, but here Christ speaks concisely, because His discourse was directed to Nicodemus, but still in a more significant manner, for each word had much significance. For by the expression, so loved, and that other, God the world, He shows the great strength of His love. Large and infinite was the interval between the two. He, the immortal, who is without beginning, the Infinite Majesty, they but dust and ashes, full of ten thousand sins, who, ungrateful, have at all times offended Him; and these He loved. Again, the words which He added after these are alike significant, when He says, that He gave His Only-begotten Son, not a servant, not an Angel, not an Archangel. And yet no one would show such anxiety for his own child, as God did for His ungrateful servants.

His Passion then He sets before him not very openly, but rather darkly; but the advantage of the Passion He adds in a clearer manner, saying, That every one that believes in Him. should not perish, but have everlasting life. For when He had said, must be lifted up, and alluded to death, lest the hearer should be made downcast by these words, forming some mere human opinions concerning Him, and supposing that His death was a ceasing to be, observe how He sets this right, by saying, that He that was given was The Son of God, and the cause of life, of everlasting life. He who procured life for others by death, would not Himself be continually in death; for if they who believed on the Crucified perish not, much less does He perish who is crucified. He who takes away the destitution of others much more is He free from it; He who gives life to others, much more to Himself does He well forth life. Do you see that everywhere there is need of faith? For He calls the Cross the fountain of life; which reason cannot easily allow, as the heathens now by their mocking testify. But faith which goes beyond the weakness of reasoning, мая easily receive and retain it. And whence did God so love the world? From no other source but only from his goodness.

3. Let us now be abashed at His love, let us be ashamed at the excess of His lovingkindness, since He for our sakes spared not His Only-begotten Son, yet we spare our wealth to our own injury; He for us gave His Own Son, but we for Him do not so much as despise money, nor even for ourselves. And how can these things deserve pardon? If we see a man submitting to sufferings and death for us, we set him before all others, count him among our chief friends, place in his hands all that is ours, and deem it rather his than ours, and even so do not think that we give him the return that he deserves. But towards Christ we do not preserve even this degree of right feeling. He laid down His life for us, and poured forth His precious Blood for our sakes, who were neither well-disposed nor good, while we do not pour out even our money for our own sakes, and neglect Him who died for us, when He is naked and a stranger; and who shall deliver us from the punishment that is to come? For suppose that it were not God that punishes, but that we punished ourselves; should we not give our vote against ourselves? Should we not sentence ourselves to the very fire of hell, for allowing Him who laid down His life for us, to pine with hunger? But why speak I of money? Had we ten thousand lives, ought we not to lay them all down for Him? And yet not even so could we do what His benefits deserve. For he who confers a benefit in the first instance, gives evident proof of his kindness, but he who has received one, whatever return he makes, he repays as a debt, and does not bestow as a favor; especially when he who did the first good turn was benefiting his enemies. And he who repays both bestows his gifts on a benefactor, and himself reaps their fruit besides. But not even this induces us; more foolish are we than any, putting golden necklaces about our servants and mules and horses, and neglecting our Lord who goes about naked, and passes from door to door, and ever stands at our outlets, and stretches forth His hands to us, but often regarding Him with unpitying eye; yet these very things He undergoes for our sake. Gladly does He hunger that you мая be fed; naked does He go that He мая provide for you the materials for a garment of incorruption, yet not even so do you give up any of your own. Some of your garments are moth-eaten, others are a load to your coffers, and a needless trouble to their possessors, while He who gave you these and all else that you possess goes naked.

But perhaps you do not lay them by in your coffers, but wear them and make yourself fine with them. And what gain you by this? Is it that the street people мая see you? What then? They will not admire you who wearest such apparel, but the man who supplies garments to the needy; so if you desire to be admired, by clothing others, you will the rather get infinite applause. Then too God as well as man shall praise you; now none can praise, but all will grudge at you, seeing you with a body well arrayed, but having a neglected soul. So harlots have adornment, and their clothes are often more than usually expensive and splendid; but the adornment of the soul is with those only who live in virtue.

These things I say continually, and I will not cease to say them, not so much because I care for the poor, as because I care for your souls. For they will have some comfort, if not from you, yet from some other quarter; or even if they be not comforted, but perish by hunger, the harm to them will be no great matter. What did poverty and wasting by hunger injure Lazarus! But none can rescue you from hell, if you obtain not the help of the poor; we shall say to you what was said to the rich man, who was continually broiling, yet gained no comfort. God grant that none ever hear those words, but that all мая go into the bosom of Abraham; by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 28 on the Gospel of John

John 3:17

For God sent not His Son to condemn the world, but to save the world.

1. Many of the more careless sort of persons, using the lovingkindness of God to increase the magnitude of their sins and the excess of their disregard, speak in this way, There is no hell, there is no future punishment, God forgives us all sins. To stop whose mouths a wise man says, Say not, His mercy is great, He will be pacified for the multitude of my sins; for mercy and wrath come from Him, and His indignation rests upon sinners Sirach 5:6: and again, As His mercy is great, so is His correction also. Sirach 16:12 Where then, says one, is His lovingkindness, if we shall receive for our sins according to our deserts? That we shall indeed receive according to our deserts, hear both the Prophet and Paul declare; one says, You shall render to every man according to his work Psalm 62:12, Septuagint; the other, Who will render to every man according to his work. Romans 2:6 And yet we мая see that even so the lovingkindness of God is great; in dividing our existence into two periods, the present life and that which is to come, and making the first to be an appointment of trial, the second a place of crowning, even in this He has shown great lovingkindness.

How and in what way? Because when we had committed many and grievous sins, and had not ceased from youth to extreme old age to defile our souls with ten thousand evil deeds, for none of these sins did He demand from us a reckoning, but granted us remission of them by the washing of Regeneration, and freely gave us Righteousness and Sanctification. What then, says one, if a man who from his earliest age has been deemed worthy of the mysteries, after this commits ten thousand sins? Such an one deserves a severer punishment. For we do not pay the same penalties for the same sins, if we do wrong after Initiation. And this Paul declares, saying, He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, do you suppose, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the Covenant an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:28–29 Such an one then is worthy of severer punishment. Yet even for him God has opened doors of repentance, and has granted him many means for the washing away his transgressions, if he will. Think then what proofs of lovingkindness these are; by Grace to remit sins, and not to punish him who after grace has sinned and deserves punishment, but to give him a season and appointed space for his clearing. For all these reasons Christ said to Nicodemus, God sent not His Son to condemn the world, but to save the world.

For there are two Advents of Christ, that which has been, and that which is to be; and the two are not for the same purpose; the first came to pass not that He might search into our actions, but that He might remit; the object of the second will be not to remit, but to enquire. Therefore of the first He says, I came not to condemn the world, but to save the world John 3:17; but of the second, When the Son shall have come in the glory of His Father, He shall set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left. Matthew 25:31, 46 And they shall go, these into life; and these into eternal punishment. Yet His former coming was for judgment, according to the rule of justice. Why? Because before His coming there was a law of nature, and the prophets, and moreover a written Law, and doctrine, and ten thousand promises, and manifestations of signs, and chastisements, and vengeances, and many other things which might have set men right, and it followed that for all these things He would demand account; but, because He is merciful, He for a while pardons instead of making enquiry. For had He done so, all would at once have been hurried to perdition. For all, it says, have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 Do you see the unspeakable excess of His lovingkindness?

John 3:18

He that believes in the Son, is not judged; but he that believes not, is judged already.

Yet if He came not to judge the world, how is he that believes not judged already, if the time of judgment has not yet arrived? He either means this, that the very fact of disbelieving without repentance is a punishment, (for to be without the light, contains in itself a very severe punishment,) or he announces beforehand what shall be. For as the murderer, though he be not as yet condemned by the decision of the judge, is still condemned by the nature of the thing, so is it with the unbeliever. Since Adam also died on the day that he ate of the tree; for so ran the decree, In the day that you eat of the tree, you shall die Genesis 2:17, Septuagint; yet he lived. How then died he? By the decree; by the very nature of the thing; for he who has rendered himself liable to punishment, is under its penalty, and if for a while not actually so, yet he is by the sentence.

Lest any one on hearing, I came not to judge the world, should imagine that he might sin unpunished, and should so become more careless, Christ stops such disregard by saying, is judged already; and because the judgment was future and not yet at hand, He brings near the dread of vengeance, and describes the punishment as already come. And this is itself a mark of great lovingkindness, that He not only gives His Son, but even delays the time of judgment, that they who have sinned, and they who believe not, мая have power to wash away their transgressions.

He that believes in the Son, is not judged. He that believes, not he that is over-curious: he that believes, not the busybody. But what if his life be unclean, and his deeds evil? It is of such as these especially that Paul declares, that they are not true believers at all: They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him. Titus 1:16 But here Christ says, that such an one is not judged in this one particular; for his works indeed he shall suffer a severer punishment, but having believed once, he is not chastised for unbelief.

2. Do you see how having commenced His discourse with fearful things, He has concluded it again with the very same? For at first He says, Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God: and here again, He that believes not on the Son, is judged already. Think not, He says, that the delay advantages at all the guilty, except he repent, for he that has not believed, shall be in no better state than those who are already condemned and under punishment.

John 3:19

And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.

What He says, is of this kind: they are punished, because they would not leave the darkness, and hasten to the light. And hence He goes on to deprive them of all excuse for the future: Had I come, says He, to punish and to exact account of their deeds, they might have been able to say, 'this is why we started away from you,' but now I have come to free them from darkness, and to bring them to the light; who then could pity one who will not come from darkness unto light? When they have no charge to bring against us, but have received ten thousand benefits, they start away from us. And this charge He has brought in another place, where He says, They hated Me without a cause John 15:25: and again, If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin. John 15:22 For he who in the absence of light sits in darkness, мая perchance receive pardon; but one who after it has come abides by the darkness, produces against himself a certain proof of a perverse and contentious disposition. Next, because His assertion would seem incredible to most, (for none would prefer darkness to light,) He adds the cause of such a feeling in them. What is that?

John 3:19–20

Because their deeds were evil. For every one that does evil, hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Yet he came not to judge or to enquire, but to pardon and remit transgressions, and to grant salvation through faith. How then fled they? Had He come and sat in His Judgment seat, what He said might have seemed reasonable; for he that is conscious to himself of evil deeds, is wont to fly his judge. But, on the contrary, they who have transgressed even run to one who is pardoning. If therefore He came to pardon, those would naturally most hasten to Him who were conscious to themselves of many transgressions; and indeed this was the case with many, for even publicans and sinners sat at meat with Jesus. What then is this which He says? He says this of those who choose always to remain in wickedness. He indeed came, that He might forgive men's former sins, and secure them against those to come; but since there are some so relaxed, so powerless for the toils of virtue, that they desire to abide by wickedness till their latest breath, and never cease from it, He speaks in this place reflecting upon these. For since, He says, the profession of Christianity requires besides right doctrine a sound conversation also, they fear to come over to us, because they like not to show forth a righteous life. Him that lives in heathenism none would blame, because with gods such as he has, and with rites as foul and ridiculous as his gods, he shows forth actions that suit his doctrines; but those who belong to the True God, if they live a careless life, have all men to call them to account, and to accuse them. So greatly do even its enemies admire the truth. Observe, then, how exactly He lays down what He says. His expression is, not He that has done evil comes not to the light, but he that does it always, he that desires always to roll himself in the mire of sin, he will not subject himself to My laws, but chooses to stay without, and to commit fornication without fear, and to do all other forbidden things. For if he comes to Me, he becomes manifest as a thief in the light, and therefore he avoids My dominion. For instance, even now one мая hear many heathen say, that they cannot come to our faith, because they cannot leave off drunkenness and fornication, and the like disorders.

Well, says some one, but are there no Christians that do evil, and heathens that live discreetly? That there are Christians who do evil, I know; but whether there are heathens who live a righteous life, I do not yet know assuredly. For do not speak to me of those who by nature are good and orderly, (this is not virtue,) but tell me of the man who can endure the exceeding violence of his passions and (yet) be temperate. You cannot. For if the promise of a Kingdom, and the threat of hell, and so much other provision, can scarcely keep men in virtue, they will hardly go after virtue who believe in none of these things. Or, if any pretend to do so, they do it for show; and he who does so for show, will not, when he мая escape observation, refrain from indulging his evil desires. However, that we мая not seem to any to be contentious, let us grant that there are right livers among the heathen; for neither does this go against my argument, since I spoke of that which occurs in general, not of what happens rarely.

And observe how in another way He deprives them of all excuse, when He says that, the light came into the world. Did they seek it themselves, He says, did they toil, did they labor to find it? The light itself came to them, and not even so would they hasten to it. And if there be some Christians who live wickedly, I would argue that He does not say this of those who have been Christians from the beginning, and who have inherited true religion from their forefathers, (although even these for the most part have been shaken from right doctrine by their evil life,) yet still I think that He does not now speak concerning these, but concerning the heathen and the Jews who ought to have come to the right faith. For He shows that no man living in error would choose to come to the truth unless he before had planned for himself a righteous life, and that none would remain in unbelief unless he had previously chosen always to be wicked.

Do not tell me that a man is temperate, and does not rob; these things by themselves are not virtue. For what advantages it, if a man has these things, and yet is the slave of vainglory, and remains in his error, from fear of the company of his friends? This is not right living. The slave of a reputation is no less a sinner than the fornicator; nay, he works more and more grievous deeds than he. But tell me of any one that is free from all passions and from all iniquity, and who remains among the heathen. You can not do so; for even those among them who have boasted great things, and who have, as they say, sayest. «}--> mastered avarice or gluttony, have been, most of all men, the slaves of reputation, and this is the cause of all evils. Thus it is that the Jews also have continued Jews; for which cause Christ rebuked them and said, How can you believe, which receive honor from men? John 5:44

And why, pray, did He not speak on these matters with Nathanael, to whom He testified of the truth, nor extend His discourse to any length? Because even he came not with such zeal as did Nicodemus. For Nicodemus made this his work, and the season which others used for rest he made a season for hearing; but Nathanael came at the instance of another. Yet not even him did Jesus entirely pass by, for to him He says, Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. John 1:51 But to Nicodemus He spoke not so, but conversed with him on the Dispensation and on eternal life, addressing each differently and suitably to the condition of his will. It was sufficient for Nathanael, because he knew the writings of the prophets, and was not so timid either, to hear only thus far; but because Nicodemus was as yet possessed by fear, Christ did not indeed clearly reveal to him the whole, but shook his mind so as to cast out fear by fear, declaring that he who did not believe was being judged, and that unbelief proceeded from an evil conscience. For since he made great account of honor from men, more than he did of the punishment; (Many, says the Evangelist, of the rulers believed on Him, but because of the Jews they did not confess John 12:42) on this point Christ touches him, saying, It cannot be that he who believes not on Me disbelieves for any other cause save that he lives an unclean life. Farther on He says, I am the Light John 8:12, but here, the Light came into the world; for at the beginning He spoke somewhat darkly, but afterwards more clearly. Yet even so the man was kept back by regard for the opinion of the many, and therefore could not endure to speak boldly as he ought.

Fly we then vainglory, for this is a passion more tyrannical than any. Hence spring covetousness and love of wealth, hence hatred and wars and strifes; for he that desires more than he has, will never be able to stop, and he desires from no other cause, but only from his love of vainglory. For tell me, why do so many encircle themselves with multitudes of eunuchs, and herds of slaves, and much show? Not because they need it, but that they мая make those who meet them witnesses of this unseasonable display. If then we cut this off, we shall slay together with the head the other members also of wickedness, and there will be nothing to hinder us from dwelling on earth as though it were heaven. Nor does this vice merely thrust its captives into wickedness, but is even co-existent with their virtues, and when it is unable entirely to cast us out of these, it still causes us much damage in the very exercise of them, forcing us to undergo the toil, and depriving us of the fruit. For he that with an eye to this, fasts, and prays, and shows mercy, has his reward. What can be more pitiable than a loss like this, that it should befall man to bewail himself uselessly and in vain, and to become an object of ridicule, and to lose the glory from above? Since he that aims at both cannot obtain both. It is indeed possible to obtain both, when we desire not both, but one only, that from heaven; but he cannot obtain both, who longs for both. Wherefore if we wish to attain to glory, let us flee from human glory, and desire that only which comes from God; so shall we obtain both the one and the other; which мая we all enjoy, through the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 29 on the Gospel of John

John 3:22

And He came and His disciples into the land of Judæa, and there He tarried with them (and baptized).

1. Nothing can be clearer or mightier than the truth, just as nothing is weaker than falsehood, though it be shaded by ten thousand veils. For even so it is easily detected, it easily melts away. But truth stands forth unveiled for all that will behold her beauty; she seeks no concealment, dreads no danger, trembles at no plots, desires not glory from the many, is accountable to no mortal thing, but stands above them all, is the object of ten thousand secret plots, yet remains unconquerable, and guards as in a sure fortress these who fly to her by her own exceeding might, who avoids secret lurking places, and sets what is hers before all men. And this Christ conversing with Pilate declared, when He said, I ever taught openly, and in secret have I said nothing. John 18:20 As He spoke then, so He acted now, for, After this, says the Evangelist, He went forth and His disciples into the land of Judæa, and there He tarried with them and baptized. At the feasts He went up to the City to set forth in the midst of them His doctrines, and the help of His miracles; but after the feasts were over, He often went to Jordan, because many ran together there. For He ever chose the most crowded places, not from any love of show or vainglory, but because He desired to afford His help to the greatest number.

Yet the Evangelist farther on says, that Jesus baptized not, but His disciples; whence it is clear that this is his meaning here also. And why did Jesus not baptize? The Baptist had said before, He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Now he had not yet given the Spirit, and it was therefore with good cause that he did not baptize. But His disciples did so, because they desired to bring many to the saving doctrine.

And why, when the disciples of Jesus were baptizing, did not John cease to do so? Why did he continue to baptize, and that even until he was led to prison?

Ver. 23 . 'John also was baptizing in Ænon'; and to add,

Ver. 24 . 'John was not yet cast into prison,'

For to say these things was to declare that until that time he did not cease to baptize. But wherefore did he baptize until then? For he would have made the disciples of Jesus seem more reverend had he desisted when they began. Why then did he baptize? It was that he might not excite his disciples to even stronger rivalry, and make them more contentious still. For if, although he ten thousand times proclaimed Christ, yielded to Him the chief place, and made himself so much inferior, he still could not persuade them to run to Him; he would, had he added this also, have made them yet more hostile. On this account it was that Christ began to preach more constantly when John was removed. And moreover, I think that the death of John was allowed, and that it happened very quickly, in order that the whole attention of the multitude might be shifted to Christ, and that they might no longer be divided in their opinions concerning the two.

Besides, even while he was baptizing, he did not cease continually to exhort them, and to show them the high and awful nature of Jesus. For He baptized them, and told them no other thing than that they must believe in Him that came after him. Now how would a man who acted thus by desisting have made the disciples of Christ seem worthy of reverence? On the contrary, he would have been thought to do so through envy and passion. But to continue preaching gave a stronger proof; for he desired not glory for himself, but sent on his hearers to Christ, and wrought with Him not less, but rather much more than Christ's own disciples, because his testimony was unsuspected and he was by all men far more highly esteemed than they. And this the Evangelist implies, when he says, all Judæa and the country around about Jordan went out to him and were baptized. Matthew 3:5 Even when the disciples were baptizing, yet many did not cease to run to him.

If any one should enquire, And in what was the baptism of the disciples better than that of John? we will reply, in nothing; both were alike without the gift of the Spirit, both parties alike had one reason for baptizing, and that was, to lead the baptized to Christ. For in order that they might not be always running about to bring together those that should believe, as in Simon's case his brother did, and Philip to Nathanael, they instituted baptism, in order by it to bring all men to them easily, and to prepare a way for the faith which was to be. But that the baptisms had no superiority one over the other, is shown by what follows. What is that?

John 3:25

There arose a question (between some) of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

For the disciples of John being ever jealously disposed towards Christ's disciples and Christ Himself, when they saw them baptizing, began to reason with those who were baptized, as though their baptism was in a manner superior to that of Christ's disciples; and taking one of the baptized, they tried to persuade him of this; but persuaded him not. Hear how the Evangelist has given us to understand that it was they who attacked him, not he who set on foot the question. He does not say, that a certain Jew questioned with them, but that, there arose a questioning from the disciples of John with a certain Jew, concerning purification.

2. And observe, I pray you, the Evangelist's inoffensiveness. He does not speak in the way of invective, but as far as he is able softens the charge, merely saying, that a question arose; whereas the sequel (which he has also set down in an inoffensive manner) makes it plain that what was said was said from jealousy.

John 3:26

They came unto John, and said to him, Rabbi, He that was with you beyond Jordan, to whom you bore witness, behold the same baptizes, and all men come to Him.

That is, He whom you baptized; for this they imply when they say, to whom you bore witness, as though they had said, He whom you pointed out as illustrious, and make remarkable, dares to do the same as thou. Yet they do not say, He whom you baptized baptizes; (for then they would have been obliged to make mention of the Voice that came down from heaven, and of the descent of the Spirit;) but what say they? He that was with you beyond Jordan, to whom you bore witness; that is, He who held the rank of a disciple, who was nothing more than we, this man has separated himself, and baptizes. For they thought to make him jealous, not only by this, but by asserting that their own reputation was now diminishing. All, say they, come to Him. Whence it is evident, that they did not get the better of the Jew with whom they disputed; but they spoke these words because they were imperfect in disposition, and were not yet clear from a feeling of rivalry. What then does John? He did not rebuke them severely, fearing lest they should separate themselves again from him, and work some other mischief. What are his words?

John 3:27

A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from above.

Marvel not, if he speak of Christ in a lowly strain; it was impossible to teach all at once, and from the very beginning, men so pre-occupied by passion. But he desires to strike them for a while with awe and terror, and to show them that they warred against none other than God Himself, when they warred against Christ. And here he secretly establishes that truth, which Gamaliel asserted, You cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. Acts 5:39 For to say, None can receive anything, except it be given him from heaven, was nothing else than declaring that they were attempting impossibilities, and so would be found to fight against God. Well, but did not Theudas and his followers 'receive' from themselves? They did, but they straightway were scattered and destroyed, not so what belonged to Christ.

By this also he gently consoles them, showing them that it was not a man, but God, who surpassed them in honor; and that therefore they must not wonder if what belonged to Him was glorious, and if all men came unto Him: for that this was the nature of divine things, and that it was God who brought them to pass, because no man ever yet had power to do such deeds. All human things are easily seen through, and rotten, and quickly melt away and perish; these were not such, therefore not human. Observe too how when they said, to whom you bore witness, he turned against themselves that which they thought they had put forward to lower Christ, and silences them after showing that Jesus' glory came not from his testimony; A man cannot, he says, receive anything of himself, except it be given him from heaven. If you hold at all to my testimony, and believe it to be true, know that by that testimony you ought to prefer not me to Him, but Him to me. For what was it that I testified? I call you yourselves to witness.

John 3:28

You yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him.

If then you hold to my testimony, (and you even now produce it when you say, 'to whom you bore witness,') He is not only not diminished by receiving my witness, but rather is increased by it; besides, the testimony was not mine, but God's. So that if I seem to you to be trustworthy, I said this among other things, that 'I am sent before Him.' Do you see how he shows little by little that this Voice was divine? For what he says is of this kind: I am a servant, and say the words of Him that sent me, not flattering Christ through human favor, but serving His Father who sent me. I gave not the testimony as a gift, but what I was sent to speak, I spoke. Do not then because of this suppose that I am great, for it shows that He is great. He is Lord of all things. This he goes on to declare, and says,

John 3:29

He that has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom which stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice.

But how does he who said, 'whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose,' now call himself His 'friend'? It is not to exalt himself, nor boastingly, that he says this, but from desire to show that he too most forwards this, (i.e. the exaltation of Christ,) and that these things come to pass not against his will or to his grief, but that he desires and is eager for them, and that it was with a special view to them that all his actions had been performed; and this he has very wisely shown by the term friend. For on occasions like marriages, the servants of the bridegroom are not so glad and joyful as his friends. It was not from any desire to prove equality of honor, (away with the thought,) but only excess of pleasure, and moreover from condescension to their weakness that he calls himself friend. For his service he before declared by saying, I am sent before Him. On this account, and because they thought that he was vexed at what had taken place, he called himself the friend of the Bridegroom, to show that he was not only not vexed, but that he even greatly rejoiced. For, says he, I came to effect this, and am so far from grieving at what has been done, that had it not come to pass, I should then have been greatly grieved. Had the bride not come to the Bridegroom, then I should have been grieved, but not now, since my task has been accomplished. When His servants are advancing, we are they who gain the honor; for that which we desired has come to pass, and the bride knows the Bridegroom, and you are witnesses of it when you say, 'All men come unto Him.' This I earnestly desired, I did all to this end; and now when I see that it has come to pass, I am glad, and rejoice, and leap for joy.

3. But what means, He which stands and hears Him rejoices greatly, because of the Bridegroom's voice? He transfers the expression from the parable to the subject in hand; for after mentioning the bridegroom and the bride, he shows how the bride is brought home, that is, by a Voice and teaching. For thus the Church is wedded to God; and therefore Paul says, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 At this 'Voice,' says he, I rejoice. And not without a cause does he put who stands, but to show that his office had ceased, that he had given over to Him the Bride, and must for the future stand and hear Him; that he was a servant and minister; that his good hope and his joy was now accomplished. Therefore he says,

This my joy therefore is fulfilled.

That is to say, The work is finished which was to be done by me, for the future I can do nothing more. Then, to prevent increase of jealous feeling, not then only, but for the future, he tells them also of what should come to pass, confirming this too by what he had already said and done. Therefore he continues,

John 3:30

He must increase, but I must decrease.

That is to say, What is mine has now come to a stand, and has henceforth ceased, but what is His increases; for that which you fear shall not be now only, but much more as it advances. And it is this especially which shows what is mine the brighter; for this end I came, and I rejoice that what is His has made so great progress, and that those things have come to pass on account of which all that I did was done. Do you see how gently and very wisely he softened down their passion, quenched their envy, showed them that they were undertaking impossibilities, a method by which wickedness is best checked? For this purpose it was ordained, that these things should take place while John was yet alive and baptizing, in order that his disciples might have him as a witness of the superiority of Christ, and that if they should not believe, they might be without excuse. For John came not to say these words of his own accord, nor in answer to other enquirers, but they asked the question themselves, and heard the answer. For if he had spoken of himself, their belief would not have been equal to the self-condemning judgment which they received when they heard him answer to their question; just as the Jews also, in that they sent to him from their homes, heard what they did, and yet would not believe, by this especially deprived themselves of excuse.

What then are we taught by this? That a mad desire of glory is the cause of all evils; this led them to jealousy, and when they had ceased for a little, this roused them to it again. Wherefore they come to Jesus, and say, Why do your disciples fast not? Matthew 9:14 Let us then, beloved, avoid this passion; for if we avoid this we shall escape hell. For this vice specially kindles the fire of hell, and everywhere extends its role, and tyrannically occupies every age and every rank. This has turned churches upside down, this is mischievous in state matters, has subverted houses, and cities, and peoples, and nations. Why do you marvel? It has even gone forth into the desert, and manifested even there its great power. For men who have bidden an entire farewell to riches and all the show of the world, who converse with no one, who have gained the mastery over the more imperious desires after the flesh, these very men, made captives by vainglory, have often lost all. By reason of this passion, one who had labored much went away worse off than one who had not labored at all, but on the contrary had committed ten thousand sins; the Pharisee than the Publican. However, to condemn the passion is easy enough, (all agree in doing that,) but the question is, how to get the better of it. How can we do this? By setting honor against honor. For as we despise the riches of earth when we look to the other riches, as we contemn this life when we think of that far better than this, so we shall be enabled to spit on this world's glory, when we know of another far more august than it, which is glory indeed. One is a thing vain and empty, has the name without the reality; but that other, which is from heaven, is true, and has to give its praise Angels, and Archangels, and the Lord of Archangels, or rather I should say that it has men as well. Now if you look to that theater, learnest what crowns are there, transportest yourself into the applauses which come thence, never will earthly things be able to hold you, nor when they come will you deem them great, nor when they are away seek after them. For even in earthly palaces none of the guards who stand around the king, neglecting to please him that wears the diadem and sits upon the throne, troubles himself about the voices of daws, or the noise of flies and gnats flying and buzzing about him; and good report from men is no better than these. Knowing then the worthlessness of human things, let us collect our all into treasuries that cannot be spoiled, let us seek that glory which is abiding and immovable; which мая we all attain, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom, and with whom to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 30 on the Gospel of John

John 3:31

He that comes from above is above all; he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaks of the earth.

1. A dreadful thing is the love of glory, dreadful and full of many evils; it is a thorn hard to be extracted, a wild beast untamable and many headed, arming itself against those that feed it; for as the worm eats through the wood from which it is born, as rust wastes the iron whence it comes forth, and moths the fleeces, so vainglory destroys the soul which nourishes it; and therefore we need great diligence to remove the passion. Observe here how long a charm John uses over the disciples affected by it, and can scarcely pacify them. For he softens them with other words besides those already mentioned. And what are these others? He that comes from above, he says, is above all; he that is of the earth, is earthly, and speaks of the earth. Since you make much ado with my testimony, and in this way say that I am more worthy of credit than He, you needs must know this, that it is impossible for One who comes from heaven to have His credit strengthened by one that inhabites earth.

And what means above all, what is the expression intended to show to us? That Christ has need of nothing, but is Himself sufficient for Himself, and incomparably greater than all; of himself John speaks as being of the earth, and speaking of the earth. Not that he spoke of his own mind, but as Christ said, If I have told you of earthly things and you believe not, so calling Baptism, not because it was an earthly thing, but because He compared it when He spoke with His own Ineffable Generation, so here John said that he spoke of earth, comparing his own with Christ's teaching. For the speaking of earth means nothing else than this, My things are little and low and poor compared with His, and such as it was probable that an earthly nature would receive. In Him 'are hid all the treasures of wisdom.' Colossians 2:5 That he speaks not of human reasonings is plain from this. He that is of the earth, says he, is earthly. Yet not all in him was earthly, but the higher parts were heavenly, for he had a soul, and was partaker of a Spirit which was not of earth. How then says he that he is earthly? Do you see not that he means only, I am small and of no esteem, going on the ground and born in the earth; but Christ came to us from above. Having by all these means quenched their passion, he afterwards speaks more openly of Christ; for before this it was useless to utter words which could never have gained a place in the understanding of his hearers: but when he has pulled up the thorns, he then boldly casts in the seed, saying,

John 3:31–32

He that comes from above is above all. And what He has heard He speaks, and what He has seen He testifies; and no man receives His testimony.

Having uttered something great and sublime concerning Him, he again brings down his discourse to a humbler strain. For the expression, what He has heard and seen, is suited rather to a mere man. What He knew He knew not from having learned it by sight, or from having heard it, but He included the whole in His Nature, having come forth perfect from the Bosom of His Father, and needing none to teach Him. For, As the Father, He says, knows Me, even so know I the Father. John 10:15 What then means, He speaks that He has heard, and testifies that He has seen? Since by these senses we gain correct knowledge of everything, and are deemed worthy of credit when we teach on matters which our eyes have embraced and our ears have taken in, as not in such cases inventing or speaking falsehoods, John desiring here to establish this point, said, What He has heard and seen: that is, nothing that comes from Him is false, but all is true. Thus we when we are making curious enquiry into anything, often ask, Did you hear it? Did you see it? And if this be proved, the testimony is indubitable, and so when Christ Himself says, As I hear, I judge John 5:30; and, What I have heard from My Father, that I speak John 15:15; and, We speak that We have seen John 3:11; and whatsoever other sayings He utters of the kind, are uttered not that we might imagine that He says what He does being taught of any, (it were extreme folly to think this,) but in order that nothing of what is said мая be suspected by the shameless Jews. For because they had not yet a right opinion concerning Him, He continually betakes Himself to His Father, and hence makes His sayings credible.

2. And why do you wonder if He betake Himself to the Father, when He often resorts to the Prophets and the Scriptures? As when He says, They are they that testify of Me. John 5:39 Shall we then say that He is inferior to the Prophets, because He draws testimonies from them? Away with the thought. It is because of the infirmity of His hearers that He so orders His discourse, and says that He spoke what He spoke having heard it from the Father, not because He needed a teacher, but that they might believe that nothing that He said was false. John's meaning is of this kind: I desire to hear what He says, for He comes from above, bringing thence those tidings which none but life knows rightly; for 'what He has seen and heard,' is the expression of one who declares this.

And no man receives His testimony. Yet He had disciples, and many besides gave heed to His words. How then says John, No man? He says no man, instead of few men, for had he meant no man at all, how could he have added,

John 3:33

He that has received His testimony, has set to his seal that God is true.

Here he touches his own disciples, as not being likely for a time to be firm believers. And that they did not even after this believe in Him, is clear from what is said afterwards; for John even when dwelling in prison sent them thence to Christ, that he might the more bind them to Him. Yet even then they scarcely believed, to which Christ alluded when He said, And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me. Matthew 11:6 And therefore now he said, And no man receives His testimony, to make sure his own disciples; all but saying, Do not, because for a time few shall believe in Him, therefore deem that His words are false; for, 'He speaks that He has seen.' Moreover he says this to touch also the insensibility of the Jews. A charge which the Evangelist at commencing brought against them, saying, He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. For this is no reproach against Him, but an accusation of those who received Him not. John 1:11

He that has received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true. Here he terrifies them also by showing that he who believes not on Him, disbelieves not Him alone, but the Father also; wherefore he adds:

John 3:34

He whom God has sent speaks the words of God.

Since then He speaks His words, he that believes and he that believes not, believes or believes not God. Hath set to His seal, that is, has declared. Then, to increase their dread, he says, that God is true; thus showing, that no man could disbelieve Christ without making God who sent Him guilty of a falsehood. Because, since He says nothing save what is from the Father, but all that He says is His, he that hears not Him, hears not Him that sent Him. See how by these words again he strikes them with fear. As yet they thought it no great thing not to hearken to Christ; and therefore he held so great a danger above the heads of the unbelievers, that they might learn that they hearken not to God Himself, who hearken not to Christ. Then he proceeds with the discourse, descending to the measure of their infirmity, and saying,

For God gives not the Spirit by measure.

Again, as I said, he brings down his discourse to lower ground, varying it and making it suitable to be received by those who heard it then; otherwise he could not have raised them and increased their fear. For had he spoken anything great and sublime concerning Jesus Himself, they would not have believed, but might even have despised Him. Therefore he leads up all to the Father, speaking for a while of Christ as of a man. But what is it that he says, God gives not the Spirit by measure? He would show that we all have received the operation of the Spirit, by measure, (for in this place he means by Spirit the operation of the Spirit, for this it is that is divided,) but that Christ has all Its operation unmeasured and entire. Now if His operations be unmeasured, much more His Essence. Do you see too that the Spirit is Infinite? How then can He who has received all the operation of the Spirit, who knows the things of God, who says, We speak that We have heard, and testify that We have seen John 3:11, be rightly suspected? He says nothing which is not of God, or which is not of the Spirit. And for a while he utters nothing concerning God the Word, but makes all his doctrine credible by (reference to) the Father and the Spirit. For that there is a God they knew, and that there is a Spirit they knew, (even though they held not a right opinion concerning Him,) but that there is a Son, they knew not. It is for this reason that he ever has recourse to the Father and the Spirit, thence confirming his words. For if any one should take no account of this reason, and examine his language by itself, it would fall very far short of the Dignity of Christ. Christ was not therefore worthy of their faith, because He had the operation of the Spirit, (for He needs not aid from thence,) but is Himself Self-sufficient; only for a while the Baptist speaks to the understanding of the simpler sort, desiring to raise them up by degrees from their low notions.

And this I say, that we мая not carelessly pass by what is contained in the Scriptures, but мая fully consider the object of the speaker, and the infirmity of the hearers, and many other points in them. For teachers do not say all as they themselves would wish, but generally as the state of their weak (hearers) requires. Wherefore Paul says, I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal; I have fed you with milk, and not with meat. 1Corinthians 3:1–2 He means, I desired indeed to speak unto you as unto spiritual, but could not; not because he was unable, but because they were not able so to hear. So too John desired to teach some great things to the disciples, but they could not yet bear to receive them, and therefore he dwells for the most part on that which is lowlier.

It behooves us therefore to explore all carefully. For the words of the Scriptures are our spiritual weapons; but if we know not how to fit those weapons and to arm our scholars rightly, they keep indeed their proper power, but cannot help those who receive them. For let us suppose there to be a strong corselet, and helm, and shield, and spear; and let one take this armor and put the corselet upon his feet, the helmet over his eyes instead of on his head, let him not put the shield before his breast, but perversely tie it to his legs: will he be able to gain any advantage from the armor? will he not rather be harmed? It is plain to any one that he will. Yet not on account of the weakness of the weapons, but on account of the unskillfulness of the man who knows not how to use them well. So with the Scriptures, if we confound their order; they will even so retain their proper force, yet will do us no good. Although I am always telling you this both in private and in public, I effect nothing, but see you all your time nailed to the things of this life, and not so much as dreaming of spiritual matters. Therefore our lives are careless, and we who strive for truth have but little power, and have become a laughing stock to Greeks and Jews and Heretics. Had you been careless in other matters, and exhibited in this place the same indifference as elsewhere, not even so could your doings have been defended; but now in matters of this life, every one of you, artisan and politician alike, is keener than a sword, while in necessary and spiritual things we are duller than any; making by-work business, and not deeming that which we ought to have esteemed more pressing than any business, to be by-work even. Do you not know that the Scriptures were written not for the first of mankind alone, but for our sakes also? Do you not hear Paul say, that they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world have come; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope? 1Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4 I know that I speak in vain, yet will I not cease to speak, for thus I shall clear myself before God, though there be none to hear me. He that speaks to them that give heed has this at least to cheer his speech, the persuasion of his hearers; but he that speaks continually and is not listened to, and yet ceases not to speak, мая be worthy of greater honor than the other, because he fulfills the will of God, even though none give heed unto him, to the best of his power. Still, though our reward will be greater owing to your disobedience, we rather desire that it be diminished, and that your salvation be advanced, thinking that your being well approved of is a great reward. And we now say this not to make our discourse painful and burdensome to you, but to show to you the grief which we feel by reason of your indifference. God grant that we мая be all of us delivered from this, that we мая cling to spiritual zeal and obtain the blessings of heaven, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 31 on the Gospel of John

John 3:35–36

The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He that believes in the Son has everlasting life, and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.

1. Great is shown to be in all things the gain of humility. Thus it is that we have brought arts to perfection, not by learning them all at once from our teachers; it is thus that we have built cities, putting them together slowly, little by little; it is thus that we maintain our life. And marvel not if the thing has so much power in matters pertaining to this life, when in spiritual things one мая find that great is the power of this wisdom. For so the Jews were enabled to be delivered from their idolatry, being led on gently and little by little, and hearing from the first nothing sublime concerning either doctrine or life. So after the coming of Christ, when it was the time for higher doctrines, the Apostles brought over all men without at first uttering anything sublime. And so Christ appears to have spoken to most at the beginning, and so John did now, speaking of Him as of some wonderful man, and darkly introducing high matter.

For instance, when commencing he spoke thus: A man cannot receive anything of himself John 3:27: then after adding a high expression, and saying, He that comes from heaven is above all, he again brings down his discourse to what is lowly, and besides many other things says this, that God gives not the Spirit by measure. Then he proceeds to say, The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. And after that, knowing that great is the force of punishment, and that the many are not so much led by the promise of good things as by the threat of the terrible, he concludes his discourse with these words; He that believes in the Son has everlasting life; but he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him. Here again he refers the account of punishment to the Father, for he says not the wrath of the Son, (yet He is the Judge,) but sets over them the Father, desiring so the more to terrify them.

Is it then enough, says one, to believe in the Son, that one мая have eternal life? By no means. And hear Christ Himself declaring this, and saying, Not every one that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven Matthew 7:21; and the blasphemy against the Spirit is enough of itself to cast a man into hell. But why speak I of a portion of doctrine? Though a man believe rightly on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, yet if he lead not a right life, his faith will avail nothing towards his salvation. Therefore when He says, This is life eternal, that they мая know You the only true God John 17:3, let us not suppose that the (knowledge) spoken of is sufficient for our salvation; we need besides this a most exact life and conversation. Since though he has said here, He that believes in the Son has eternal life, and in the same place something even stronger, (for he weaves his discourse not of blessings only, but of their contraries also, speaking thus: He that believes not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him;) yet not even from this do we assert that faith alone is sufficient to salvation. And the directions for living given in many places of the Gospels show this. Therefore he did not say, This by itself is eternal life, nor, He that does but believe in the Son has eternal life, but by both expressions he declared this, that the thing does contain life, yet that if a right conversation follow not, there will follow a heavy punishment. And he did not say, awaits him, but, abides on him, that is, shall never remove from him. For that you мая not think that the shall not see life, is a temporary death, but мая believe that the punishment is continual, he has put this expression to show that it rests upon him continually. And this he has done, by these very words forcing them on to Christ. Therefore he gave not the admonition to them in particular, but made it universal, the manner which best might bring them over. For he did not say, if you believe, and, if you believe not, but made his speech general, so that his words might be free from suspicion. And this he has done yet more strongly than Christ. For Christ says, He that believes not is condemned already, but John says, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. With good cause; for it was a different thing for a man to speak of himself and for another to speak of him. They would have thought that Christ spoke often of these things from self-love, and that he was a boaster; but John was clear from all suspicion. And if at a later time, Christ also used stronger expressions, it was when they had begun to conceive an exalted opinion of Him.

John 4:1–3

When therefore Jesus knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus Himself baptized not but His disciples,) He left Judæa, and departed again into Galilee.

He indeed baptized not, but they who carried the news, desiring to excite their hearers to envy, so reported. Wherefore then 'departed' He? Not from fear, but to take away their malice, and to soften their envy. He was indeed able to restrain them when they came against Him, but this He would not do continually, that the Dispensation of the Flesh might not be disbelieved. For had He often been seized and escaped, this would have been suspected by many; therefore for the most part, He rather orders matters after the manner of a man. And as He desired it to be believed that He was God, so also that, being God, He bore the flesh; therefore even after the Resurrection, He said to the disciple, Handle Me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones Luke 24:39; therefore also He rebuked Peter when he said, Be it far from You, this shall not be unto you. Matthew 16:22 So much was this matter an object of care to Him.

2. For this is no small part of the doctrines of the Church; it is the chief point of the salvation wrought for us; by which all has been brought to pass, and has had success, for it was thus that the bonds of death were loosed, sin taken away, and the curse abolished, and ten thousand blessings introduced into our life. And therefore He especially desired that the Dispensation should be believed, as having been the root and fountain of innumerable goods to us.

Yet while acting thus in regard of His Humanity, He did not allow His Divinity to be overcast. And so, after His departure He again employed the same language as before. For He went not away into Galilee simply, but in order to effect certain important matters, those among the Samaritans; nor did He dispense these matters simply, but with the wisdom that belonged to Him, and so as not to leave to the Jews any pretense even of a shameless excuse for themselves. And to this the Evangelist points when he says,

John 4:4

And He must needs go through Samaria.

Showing that He made this the by-work of the journey. Which also the Apostles did; for just as they, when persecuted by the Jews, came to the Gentiles; so also Christ, when the Jews drove Him out, then took the Samaritans in hand, as He did also in the case of the Syrophenician woman. And this was done that all defense might be cut away from the Jews, and that they might not be able to say, He left us, and went to the uncircumcised. And therefore the disciples excusing themselves said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken unto you; but seeing ye judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. Acts 13:46 And He says again Himself, I am not come but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel Matthew 15:24; and again, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to give it to dogs. But when they drove Him away, they opened a door to the Gentiles. Yet not so did He come to the Gentiles expressly, but in passing. In passing then,

John 4:5–6

He comes to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there.

Why is the Evangelist exact about the place? It is, that when you hear the woman say, Jacob our father gave us this well, you мая not think it strange. For this was the place where Levi and Simeon, being angry because of Dinah, wrought that cruel slaughter. And it мая be worth while to relate from what sources the Samaritans were made up; since all this country is called Samaria. Whence then did they receive their name? The mountain was called Somor from its owner 1 Kings 16:24: as also Esaias says, and the head of Ephraim is Somoron Isaiah 7:9, Septuagint, but the inhabitants were termed not Samaritans but Israelites. But as time went on, they offended God, and in the reign of Pekah, Tiglath-Pileser came up, and took many cities, and set upon Elah, and having slain him, gave the kingdom to Hoshea. 2 Kings 15:29 Against him Shalmaneser came and took other cities, and made them subject and tributary. 2 Kings 17:3 At first he yielded, but afterwards he revolted from the Assyrian rule, and betook himself to the alliance of the Ethiopians. The Assyrian learned this, and having made war upon them and destroyed their cities, he no longer allowed the nation to remain there, because he had such suspicions that they would revolt. 2 Kings 17:4 But he carried them to Babylon and to the Medes, and having brought thence nations from various places, planted them in Samaria, that his dominion for the future might be sure, his own people occupying the place. After this, God, desiring to show that He had not given up the Jews through weakness, but because of the sins of those who were given up, sent lions against the foreigners, who ravaged all their nation. These things were reported to the king, and he sent a priest to deliver to them the laws of God. Still not even so did they desist wholly from their impiety, but only by halves. But as time went on, they in turn abandoned their idols, and worshipped God. And when things were in this state, the Jews having returned, ever after entertained a jealous feeling towards them as strangers and enemies, and called them from the name of the mountain, Samaritans. From this cause also there was no little rivalry between them. The Samaritans did not use all the Scriptures, but received the writings of Moses only, and made but little account of those of the Prophets. Yet they were eager to thrust themselves into the noble Jewish stock, and prided themselves upon Abraham, and called him their forefather, as being of Chaldæa; and Jacob also they called their father, as being his descendant. But the Jews abominated them as well as all (other nations). Wherefore they reproached Christ with this, saying, You are a Samaritan, and hast a devil. John 8:48 And for this reason in the parable of the man that went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, Christ makes the man who showed pity upon him to have been a Samaritan Luke 10:33, one who by them was deemed mean, contemptible, and abominable. And in the case of the ten lepers, He calls one a stranger on this account, (for he was a Samaritan,) and He gave His charge to the disciples in these words, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. Matthew 10:5

3. Nor was it merely to describe the place that the Evangelist has reminded us of Jacob, but to show that the rejection of the Jews had happened long ago. For during the time of their forefathers these Jews possessed the land, and not the Samaritans; and the very possessions which not being theirs, their forefathers had gotten, they being theirs, had lost by their sloth and transgressions. So little is the advantage of excellent ancestors, if their descendants be not like them. Moreover, the foreigners when they had only made trial of the lions, straightway returned to the right worship of the Jews, while they, after enduring such inflictions, were not even so brought to a sound mind.

To this place Christ now came, ever rejecting a sedentary and soft life, and exhibiting one laborious and active. He uses no beast to carry Him, but walks so much on a stretch, as even to be wearied with His journeying. And this He ever teaches, that a man should work for himself, go without superfluities, and not have many wants. Nay, so desirous is He that we should be alienated from superfluities, that He abridges many even of necessary things. Wherefore He said, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head. Matthew 8:20 Therefore He spent most of His time in the mountains, and in the deserts, not by day only, but also by night. And this David declared when he said, He shall drink of the brook in the way Psalm 110:7: by this showing His frugal way of life. This too the Evangelist shows in this place.

John 4:6–8

Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus by the well; and it was about the sixth hour. There comes a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus says unto her, Give Me to drink. For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy meat.

Hence we learn His activity in journeying, His carelessness about food, and how He treated it as a matter of minor importance. And so the disciples were taught to use the like disposition themselves; for they took with them no provisions for the road. And this another Evangelist declares, saying, that when He spoke to them concerning the leaven of the Pharisees Matthew 16:6, they thought that it was because they carried no bread; and when he introduces them plucking the ears of grain, and eating Matthew 12:1, and when he says that Jesus came to the fig-tree by reason of hunger Matthew 21:18, it is for nothing else but only to instruct us by all these to despise the belly, and not to deem that its service is anxiously to be attended to. Observe them, for instance, in this place neither bringing anything with them, nor because they brought not anything, caring for this at the very beginning and early part of the day, but buying food at the time when all other people were taking their meal. Not like us, who the instant we rise from our beds attend to this before anything else, calling cooks and butlers, and giving our directions with all earnestness, applying ourselves afterwards to other matters, preferring temporal things to spiritual, valuing those things as necessary which we ought to have deemed of less importance. Therefore all things are in confusion. We ought, on the contrary, making much account of all spiritual things, after having accomplished these, then to apply ourselves to the others.

And in this place it is not His laboriousness alone that is shown, but also His freedom from pride; not merely by His being tired, nor by His sitting by the way-side, but by His having been left alone, and His disciples having been separated from Him. And yet it was in His power, if He had willed it, either not to have sent them all away, or when they departed to have had other ministers. But He would not; for so He accustomed His disciples to tread all pride beneath their feet.

And what marvel, says one, if they were moderate in their wishes, since they were fishermen and tentmakers? Yes! Fishermen and tentmakers they were; but they had in a moment mounted even to the height of heaven, and had become more honorable than all earthly kings, being deemed worthy to become the companions of the Lord of the world, and to follow Him whom all beheld with awe. And ye know this too, that those men especially who are of humble origin, whenever they gain distinction, are the more easily lifted up to folly, because they are quite ignorant how to bear their sudden honor. Restraining them therefore in their present humblemindedness, He taught them always to be moderate, and never to require any to wait upon them.

«He therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus at the well»

Do you see that His sitting was because of weariness? Because of the heat? Because of his waiting for His disciples? He knew, indeed, what should take place among the Samaritans, but it was not for this that He came principally; yet, though He came not for this, it behooved not to reject the woman who came to Him, when she manifested such a desire to learn. The Jews, when He was even coming to them, drove Him away; they of the Gentiles, when He was proceeding in another direction, drew Him to them. They envied, these believed on Him. They were angry with, these revered and worshipped Him. What then? Was He to overlook the salvation of so many, to send away such noble zeal? This would have been unworthy of His lovingkindness. Therefore He ordered all the matter in hand with the Wisdom which became Him. He sat resting His body and cooling It by the fountain; for it was the very middle of the day, as the Evangelist has declared, when he says, It was about the sixth hour.

He sat thus. What means thus? Not upon a throne, not upon a cushion, but simply, and as He was, upon the ground.

«There comes a woman of Samaria to draw water»

4. Observe how he declares that the woman came forth for another purpose, in every way silencing the shameless gainsaying of the Jews, that none might say that He acted in opposition to His own command, bidding (His disciples) not to enter into any city of the Samaritans, yet conversing with Samaritans. Matthew 10:5 And therefore the Evangelist has put,

«For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy meat»

Bringing in many reasons for His conversation with her. What does the woman? When she heard, Give Me to drink, she very wisely makes the speech of Christ an occasion for a question, and says,

John 4:9

How is it that thou, being a Jew, ask drink of me, which am a Samaritan? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

And whence did she suppose Him to be a Jew? From His dress, perhaps, and from His dialect. Observe, I pray you, how considerate the woman was. If there was need of caution, Jesus needed it, not she. For she does not say, The Samaritans have no dealings with the Jews, but, The Jews do not admit the Samaritans. Yet still, although free herself from blame, when she supposed that another was falling into it she would not even so hold her peace, but corrected, as she thought, what was done unlawfully. Perhaps some one мая ask how it was that Jesus asked drink of her, when the law did not permit it. If it be answered that it was because He knew beforehand that she would not give it, then for this very reason He ought not to have asked. What then can we say? That the rejecting such observances as these was now a matter of indifference to Him; for He who induced others to do them away, would much more Himself pass them by. Not that which goes in, says He, defiles a man, but that which goes out. Matthew 15:11 And this conversation with the woman would be no slight charge against the Jews. For often did He draw them to Himself, both by words and deeds, but they would not attend; while observe how she is detained by a simple request. For He did not as yet enter on the prosecution of this business, nor the way, yet if any came to Him He did not prevent them. And to the disciples also He said thus, Into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. He did not say, And when they come to you, reject them; that would have been very unworthy of His lovingkindness. And therefore He answered the woman, and said,

John 4:10

If you knew the gift of God and who it is that says to you, Give Me to drink, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water.

First, He shows that she is worthy to hear and not to be overlooked, and then He reveals Himself. For she, as soon as she had learned who He was, would straightway hearken and attend to Him; which none can say of the Jews, for they, when they had learned, asked nothing of Him, nor did they desire to be informed on any profitable matter, but insulted and drove Him away. But when the woman had heard these words, observe how gently she answers:

John 4:11

Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence then have you that living water?

Already He has raised her from her low opinion of Him, and from deeming that He is a common man. For not without a reason does she here call Him, Lord; but assigning to Him high honor. That she spoke these words to honor Him, is plain from what is said afterwards, since she did not laugh nor mock, but doubted for a while. And wonder not if she did not at once perceive all, for neither did Nicodemus. What says he? How can these things be? and again, How can a man be born when he is old? and again, Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? But this woman more reverently: Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence then have you that living water? Christ said one thing, and she imagined another, hearing nothing beyond the words, and as yet unable to form any lofty thought. Yet, had she spoken hastily, she might have said, If you had had that living water, you would not have asked of me, but would rather have provided for yourself. You are but a boaster. But she said nothing like this; she answers with much gentleness, both at first and afterwards. For at first she says, How is it that thou, being a Jew, ask drink of me? she says not, as though speaking to an alien and an enemy, Far be it from me to give to you, who art a foe and a stranger to our nation. And afterwards again, when she heard Him utter great words, a thing at which enemies are most annoyed, she did not mock nor deride ; but what says she?

John 4:12

Are you greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

Observe how she thrusts herself into the noble stock of the Jews. For what she says is somewhat of this kind: Jacob used this water, and had nothing better to give us. And this she said showing that from the first answer (of Christ) she had conceived a great and sublime thought; for by the words, he drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle, she implies nothing else, than that she had a notion of a better Water, but that she never found it, nor clearly knew it. More clearly to explain what she means to say, the sense of her words is this: You can not assert that Jacob gave us this well, and used another himself; for he and his children drank of this one, which they would not have done if they had had another and a better. Now of the water of this well it is not in your power to give me, and you can not have another and a better, unless thou dost confess that you are greater than Jacob. Whence then have you that water which you promise that you will give us? The Jews did not converse with Him thus mildly, and yet He spoke to them on the same subject, making mention of the like water, but they profited nothing; and when He made mention of Abraham, they even attempted to stone Him. Not so does this woman approach Him; but with much gentleness, in the midst of the heat, at noon, she with much patience says and hears all, and does not so much as think of what the Jews most probably would have asserted, that This fellow is mad, and beside himself: he has tied me to this fount and well, giving me nothing, but using big words; no, she endures and perseveres until she has found what she seeks.

5. If now a woman of Samaria is so earnest to learn something profitable, if she abides by Christ though not as yet knowing Him, what pardon shall we obtain, who both knowing Him, and being not by a well, nor in a desert place, nor at noon-day, nor beneath the scorching sunbeams, but at morning-tide, and beneath a roof like this, enjoying shade and comfort, yet cannot endure to hear anything that is said, but are wearied by it. Not such was that woman; so occupied was she by Jesus' words, that she even called others to hear them. The Jews, on the contrary, not only did not call, but even hindered and impeded those who desired to come to Him, saying, See, have any of the rulers believed on him? But this people, which knows not the Law, are cursed. Let us then imitate this woman of Samaria; let us commune with Christ. For even now He stands in the midst of us, speaking to us by the Prophets and Disciples; let us hear and obey. How long shall we live uselessly and in vain? Because, not to do what is well-pleasing to God is to live uselessly, or rather not merely uselessly, but to our own hurt; for when we have spent the time which has been given us on no good purpose, we shall depart this life to suffer severest punishment for our unseasonable extravagance. For it can never be that a man who has received money to trade with, and then has eaten it up, shall have it required at his hands by the man who entrusted it to him; and that one who has spent such a life as ours to no purpose shall escape punishment. It was not for this that God brought us into this present life, and breathed into us a soul, that we should make use of the present time only, but that we should do all our business with a regard to the life which is to come. Things irrational only are useful for the present life; but we have an immortal soul, that we мая use every means to prepare ourselves for that other life. For if one enquire the use of horses and asses and oxen, and other such-like animals, we shall tell him that it is nothing else but only to minister to the present life; but this cannot be said of us; our best condition is that which follows on our departure hence; and we must do all that we мая shine there, that we мая join the choir of Angels, and stand before the King continually, through endless ages. And therefore the soul is immortal, and the body shall be immortal too, that we мая enjoy the never-ending blessings. But if, when heavenly things are proffered you, you remain nailed to earth, consider what an insult is offered to your Benefactor, when He holds forth to you things above, and thou, making no great account of them choosest earth instead. And therefore, as despised by you, He has threatened you with hell; that you мая learn hence of what great blessings you deprive yourself. God grant that none make trial of that punishment, but that having been well-pleasing to Christ, we мая obtain everlasting blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 32 on the Gospel of John

John 4:13–14

Jesus answered and said to her, Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life.

1. Scripture calls the grace of the Spirit sometimes Fire, sometimes Water, showing that these names are not descriptive of its essence, but of its operation; for the Spirit, being Invisible and Simple, cannot be made up of different substances. Now the one John declares, speaking thus, He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire Matthew 3:11: the other, Christ, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7:38 But this, says John, spoke He of the Spirit, which they should receive. So also conversing with the woman, He calls the Spirit water; for, Whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give him, shall never thirst. So also He calls the Spirit by the name of fire, alluding to the rousing and warming property of grace, and its power of destroying transgressions; but by that of water, to declare the cleansing wrought by it, and the great refreshment which it affords to those minds which receive it. And with good reason; for it makes the willing soul like some garden thick with all manner of trees fruitful and ever-flourishing, allowing it neither to feel despondency nor the plots of Satan, and quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

And observe, I pray you, the wisdom of Christ, how gently He leads on the woman; for He did not say at first, If you knew who it is that says to you, Give Me to drink, but when He had given her an occasion of calling Him a Jew, and brought her beneath the charge of having done so, repelling the accusation He says, If you knew who it is that says to you, Give Me to drink, you would have asked of Him; and having compelled her by His great promises to make mention of the Patriarch, He thus allows the woman to look through, and then when she objects, Are you greater than our father Jacob? He says not, Yea, I am greater, (for He would have seemed but to boast, since the proof did not as yet appear,) but by what He says He effects this. For He said not simply, I will give you water, but having first set that given by Jacob aside, He exalts that given by Himself, desiring to show from the nature of the things given, how great is the interval and difference between the persons of the givers, and His own superiority to the Patriarch. If, says He, you admire Jacob because he gave you this water, what will you say if I give you Water far better than this? You have yourself been first to confess that I am greater than Jacob, by arguing against Me, and asking, 'Are you greater than Jacob, that you promise to give me better water?' If you receive that Water, certainly you will confess that I am greater. Do you see the upright judgment of the woman, giving her decision from facts, both as to the Patriarch, and as to Christ? The Jews acted not thus; when they even saw Him casting out devils, they not only did not call Him greater than the Patriarch but even said that He had a devil. Not so the woman, she draws her opinion whence Christ would have her, from the demonstration afforded by His works. For by these He justifies Himself, saying, If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not; but if I do, if you believe not Me, believe the works. c. x. 37, 38 And thus the woman is brought over to the faith.

Wherefore also He, having heard, Are you greater than our father Jacob, leaves Jacob, and speaks concerning the water, saying, Whosoever shall drink of this water, shall thirst again; and He makes His comparison, not by depreciating one, but by showing the excellence of the other; for He says not, that this water is naught, nor that it is inferior and contemptible, but what even nature testifies that He says: Whosoever shall drink of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever shall drink of the Water which I shall give him, shall never thirst. The woman before this had heard of living Water John 4:10, but had not known its meaning. Since because that water is called living which is perennial and bubbles up unceasingly from uninterrupted springs, she thought that this was the water meant. Wherefore He points out this more clearly by speaking thus, and establishing by a comparison the superiority (of the water which He would give). What then says He? Whosoever shall drink of the Water that I shall give him, shall never thirst. This and what was said next especially showed the superiority, for material water possesses none of these qualities. And what is it that follows? It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. For as one that has a well within him could never be seized by thirst, so neither can he that has this Water.

The woman straightway believed, showing herself much wiser than Nicodemus, and not only wiser, but more manly. For he when he heard ten thousand such things neither invited any others to this hearing, nor himself spoke forth openly; but she exhibited the actions of an Apostle, preaching the Gospel to all, and calling them to Jesus, and drawing a whole city forth to Him. Nicodemus when he had heard said, How can these things be? And when Christ set before him a clear illustration, that of the wind, he did not even so receive the Word. But the woman not so; at first she doubted, but afterwards receiving the Word not by any regular demonstration, but in the form of an assertion, she straightway hastened to embrace it. For when Christ said, It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life, immediately the woman says,

John 4:15

Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

Do you see how little by little she is led up to the highest doctrines? First she thought Him some Jew who was transgressing the Law; then when He had repelled that accusation, (for it was necessary that the person who was to teach her such things should not be suspected,) having heard of living water, she supposed that this was spoken of material water; afterwards, having learned that the words were spiritual, she believed that the water could remove the necessity caused by thirst, but knew not yet what this could be; she still doubted, deeming it indeed to be above material things, but not being exactly informed. But here having gained a clearer insight, but not yet fully perceiving the whole, (for she says, Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw,) she for the time preferrs Him to Jacob. For (says she) I need not this well if I receive from you that water. Do you see how she sets Him before the Patriarch? This is the act of a fairly-judging soul. She had shown how great an opinion she had of Jacob, she saw One better than he, and was not held back by her prepossession. Thus this woman was neither of an easy temper, (she did not carelessly receive what was said, how can she have done so when she enquired with so great exactness? ) nor yet disobedient, nor disputatious, and this she showed by her petition. Yet to the Jews once He said, Whosoever shall eat of My flesh shall never hunger, and he that believes in Me shall never thirst John 6:35; but they not only did not believe, but were offended at Him. The woman had no such feeling, she remains and petitions. To the Jews He said, He that believes in Me shall never thirst; not so to the woman, but more grossly, He that drinks of this Water shall never thirst. For the promise referred to spiritual and unseen things. Wherefore having raised her mind by His promises, He still lingers among expressions relating to sense, because she could not as yet comprehend the exact expression of spiritual things. Since had He said, If you believe in Me you shall not thirst, she would not have understood His saying, not knowing who it could be that spoke to her, nor concerning what kind of thirst He spoke. Wherefore then did He not this in the case of the Jews? Because they had seen many signs, while she had seen no sign, but heard these words first. For which reason He afterwards reveals His power by prophecy, and does not directly introduce His reproof, but what says He?

John 4:16–19

Go, call your husband, and come there. The woman answered and said I have no husband. Jesus says unto her, You have well said, I have no husband: for you have had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not your husband: in that you said truly. The woman says unto Him, Sir, I perceive that You are a Prophet.

2. O how great the wisdom of the woman! How meekly does she receive the reproof! How should she not, says some one? Tell me, why should she? Did He not often reprove the Jews also, and with greater reproofs than these? (for it is not the same to bring forward the hidden thoughts of the heart, as to make manifest a thing that was done in secret; the first are known to God alone, and none other knows them but he who has them in his heart; the second, all who were sharers in it know;) but still when reproved did not bear it patiently. When He said, Why do you seek to kill me? John 7:19, they not only did not admire as the woman did but even mocked at and insulted Him; yet they had a demonstration from other miracles, she had only heard this speech. Still they not only did not admire, but even insulted Him, saying, You have a demon, who seeks to kill you? While she not only does not insult but admires, and is astonished at Him, and supposes Him to be a Prophet. Yet truly this rebuke touched the woman more than the other touched them; for her fault was hers alone, theirs was a general one; and we are not so much stung by what is general as by what is particular. Besides they thought they should be gaining a great object if they could slay Christ, but that which the woman had done was allowed by all to be wicked; yet was she not indignant, but was astonished and wondered. And Christ did this very same thing in the case of Nathanael. He did not at first introduce the prophecy, nor say, I saw you under the fig-tree, but when Nathanael said, Whence do you know me? then He introduced this. For He desired to take the beginnings of His signs and prophecies from the very persons who came near to Him, so that they might be more attached by what was done, and He might escape the suspicion of vainglory. Now this He does here also; for to have charged her first of all that, You have no husband, would have seemed burdensome and superfluous, but to take the reason (for speaking) from herself, and then to set right all these points, was very consistent, and softened the disposition of the hearer.

And what kind of connection, says some one, is there in the saying, 'Go, call your husband'? The discourse was concerning a gift and grace surpassing mortal nature: the woman was urgent in seeking to receive it. Christ says, Call your husband, showing that he also must share in these things; but she, eager to receive (the gift), and concealing the shamefulness of the circumstances, and supposing that she was conversing with a man, said, I have no husband. Christ having heard this, now seasonably introduces His reproof, mentioning accurately both points; for He enumerated all her former husbands, and reproved her for him whom she now would hide. What then did the woman? She was not annoyed, nor did she leave Him and fly, nor deem the thing an insult, but rather admired Him, and persevered the more. I perceive, says she, that You are a Prophet. Observe her prudence; she did not straightway run to Him, but still considers Him, and marvels at Him. For, I perceive, means, Thou appearest to me to be a Prophet. Then when she suspected this, she asks Him nothing concerning this life, not concerning bodily health, or possessions, or wealth, but at once concerning doctrines. For what says she?

John 4:20

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, (meaning Abraham and his family, for there they say that he led up his son,) and how say ye that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship?

3. Do you see how much more elevated in mind she has become? She who was anxious that she might not be troubled for thirst, now questions concerning doctrines. What then does Christ? He does not resolve the question, (for to answer simply to men's words was not His care, for it was needless, ) but leads the woman on to the greater height, and does not converse with her on these matters, until she has confessed that He was a Prophet, so that afterwards she might hear His Word with abundant belief; for having been persuaded of this, she could no longer doubt concerning what should be said to her.

Let us now after this be ashamed, and blush. A woman who had had five husbands, and who was of Samaria, was so eager concerning doctrines, that neither the time of day, nor her having come for another purpose, nor anything else, led her away from enquiring on such matters; but we not only do not enquire concerning doctrines, but towards them all our dispositions are careless and indifferent. Therefore everything is neglected. For which of you when in his house takes some Christian book in hand and goes over its contents, and searches the Scriptures? None can say that he does so, but with most we shall find draughts and dice, but books nowhere, except among a few. And even these few have the same dispositions as the many; for they tie up their books, and keep them always put away in cases, and all their care is for the fineness of the parchments, and the beauty of the letters, not for reading them. For they have not bought them to obtain advantage and benefit from them, but take pains about such matters to show their wealth and pride. Such is the excess of vainglory. I do not hear any one glory that he knows the contents, but that he has a book written in letters of gold. And what gain, tell me, is this? The Scriptures were not given us for this only, that we might have them in books, but that we might engrave them on our hearts. For this kind of possession, the keeping the commandments merely in letter, belongs to Jewish ambition; but to us the Law was not so given at all, but in the fleshy tables of our hearts. And this I say, not to prevent you from procuring Bibles, on the contrary, I exhort and earnestly pray that you do this, but I desire that from those books you convey the letters and sense into your understanding, that so it мая be purified when it receives the meaning of the writing. For if the devil will not dare to approach a house where a Gospel is lying, much less will any evil spirit, or any sinful nature, ever touch or enter a soul which bears about with it such sentiments as it contains. Sanctify then your soul, sanctify your body, by having these ever in your heart, and on your tongue. For if foul speech defiles and invites devils, it is clear that spiritual reading sanctifies and draws down the grace of the Spirit. The Scriptures are divine charms, let us then apply to ourselves and to the passions of our souls the remedies to be derived from them. For if we understand what it is that is read, we shall hear it with much readiness. I am always saying this, and will not cease to say it. Is it not strange that those who sit by the market can tell the names, and families, and cities of charioteers, and dancers, and the kinds of power possessed by each, and can give exact account of the good or bad qualities of the very horses, but that those who come hither should know nothing of what is done here, but should be ignorant of the number even of the sacred Books? If you pursue those worldly things for pleasure, I will show you that here is greater pleasure. Which is sweeter, tell me, which more marvelous, to see a man wrestling with a man, or a man buffering with a devil, a body closing with an incorporeal power, and him who is of your race victorious? These wrestlings let us look on, these, which also it is seemly and profitable to imitate, and which imitating, we мая be crowned; but not those in which emulation brings shame to him who imitates them. If you behold the one kind of contest, you behold it with devils; the other, with Angels and Archangels, and the Lord of Archangels. Say now, if you were allowed to sit with governors and kings, and to see and enjoy the spectacle, would you not deem it to be a very great honor? And here when you are a spectator in company with the King of Angels, when you see the devil grasped by the middle of the back, striving much to have the better, but powerless, do you not run and pursue after such a sight as this? And how can this be? says some one. If you keep the Bible in your hands; for in it you shall see the lists, and the long races, and his grasps, and the skill of the righteous one. For by beholding these things you shall learn also how to wrestle so yourself, and shall escape clear of devils; the performances of the heathen are assemblies of devils, not theaters of men. Wherefore I exhort you to abstain from these Satanic assemblies; for if it is not lawful to enter into an idol's house, much less to Satan's festival. I shall not cease to say these things and weary you, until I see some change; for to say these things, as says Paul, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Philippians 3:1 Be not then offended at my exhortation. If any one ought to be offended, it is I who often speak and am not heard, not you who are always hearing and always disobeying. God grant that you be not always liable to this charge, but that freed from this shame you be deemed worthy to enjoy the spiritual spectacle, and the glory which is to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 33 on the Gospel of John

John 4:21–22

Jesus says unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship ye know not what; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

1. Everywhere, beloved, we have need of faith, faith the mother of blessings, the medicine of salvation; and without this it is impossible to possess any one of the great doctrines. Without this, men are like to those who attempt to cross the open sea without a ship, who for a little way hold out by swimming, using both hands and feet, but when they have advanced farther, are quickly swamped by the waves: in like manner they who use their own reasonings, before they have learned anything, suffer shipwreck; as also Paul says, Who concerning faith have made shipwreck. 1 Timothy 1:19 That this be not our case, let us hold fast the sacred anchor by which Christ brings over the Samaritan woman now. For when she had said, How say ye that Jerusalem is the place in which men ought to worship? Christ replied, Believe Me, woman, that the hour comes, when you shall neither in Jerusalem, nor yet in this mountain, worship the Father. An exceedingly great doctrine He revealed to her, and one which He did not mention either to Nicodemus or Nathanael. She was eager to prove her own privileges more honorable than those of the Jews; and this she subtly argued from the Fathers, but Christ met not this question. For it was for the time distracting to speak on the matter, and to show why the Fathers worshipped in the mountain, and why the Jews at Jerusalem. Wherefore on this point He was silent, and having taken away from both places priority in dignity, rouses her soul by showing that neither Jews nor Samaritans possessed anything great in comparison with that which was to be given; and then He introduces the difference. Yet even thus He declared that the Jews were more honorable, not preferring place to place, but giving them the precedence because of their intention. As though He had said, About the 'place' of worship you have no need henceforth to dispute, but in the 'manner' the Jews have an advantage over you Samaritans, for 'ye,' He says, 'worship ye know not what; we know what we worship.'

How then did the Samaritans know not what they worshipped? Because they thought that God was local and partial; so at least they served Him, and so they sent to the Persians, and reported that the God of this place is angry with us 2 Kings 26, in this respect forming no higher opinion of Him than of their idols. Wherefore they continued to serve both Him and devils, joining things which ought not to be joined. The Jews, on the contrary, were free from this supposition, at least the greater part of them, and knew that He was God of the world. Therefore He says, You worship ye know not what; we know what we worship. Do not wonder that He numbers Himself among Jews, for He speaks to the woman's opinion of Him as though He were a Jewish Prophet, and therefore He puts, we worship. For that He is of the objects of worship is clear to every one, because to worship belongs to the creature, but to be worshipped to the Lord of the creature. But for a time He speaks as a Jew; and the expression we in this place means we Jews. Having then exalted what was Jewish, He next makes Himself credible, and persuades the woman to give the greater heed to His words, by rendering His discourse above suspicion, and showing that He does not exalt what belongs to them by reason of relationship to those of His own tribe. For it is clear, that one who had made these declarations concerning the place on which the Jews most prided themselves, and thought that they were superior to all, and who had taken away their high claims, would not after this speak to get favor of any, but with truth and prophetic power. When therefore He had for a while removed her from such reasonings, say ing, Woman, believe Me, and what follows, then He adds, for salvation is of the Jews. What He says is of this kind: neither, that blessings to the world came from them, (for to know God and condemn idols had its beginning from them, and with you the very act of worship, although ye do it not rightly, yet received its origin from them,) or else, He speaks of His own Coming. Or rather, one would not be wrong in calling both these things salvation which He said was of the Jews; which Paul implied when he said, Of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all. Romans 9:5 Do you see how He commends the old Covenant, and shows that it is the root of blessings, and that He is throughout not opposed to the Law, since He makes the groundwork of all good things to come from the Jews?

John 4:23

But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father.

We, O woman, He says, excel you in the manner of our worship, but even this shall henceforth have an end. Not the places only, but even the manner of serving God shall be changed. And this change is at your very doors. 'For the hour comes, and now is.'

2. For since what the Prophets said they said long before the event, to show that here it is not so, He says, And now is. Think not, He says, that this is a prophecy of such a kind as shall be accomplished after a long time, the fulfillment is already at hand and at your very doors, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. In saying true, He excludes Jews as well as Samaritans; for although the Jews be better than the Samaritans, yet are they far inferior to those that shall come, as inferior as is the type to the reality. But He speaks of the Church, that she is the true worship, and such as is meet for God.

For the Father seeks such to worship Him.

If then He in times past sought such as these, He allowed to those others their way of worship, not willingly, but from condescension, and for this reason, that He might bring them in also. Who then are the true worshipers? Those who confine not their service by place, and who serve God in spirit; as Paul says, Whom I serve in my spirit in the Gospel of His Son: and again, I beseech you that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service. Romans 1:9 and 12:1

John 4:24

God is a Spirit

But when He says this, He declares nothing else than His incorporeal Nature. Now the service of that which is incorporeal must needs be of the same character, and must be offered by that in us which is incorporeal, to wit, the soul, and purity of mind. Wherefore He says, they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. For because both Samaritans and Jews were careless about the soul, but took great pains about the body, cleansing it in various ways, it is not, He says, by purity of body, but by that which is incorporeal in us, namely the mind, that the incorporeal One is served. Sacrifice then not sheep and calves, but dedicate yourself to the Lord; make yourself a holocaust, this is to offer a living sacrifice. You must worship in truth ; as former things were types, such as circumcision, and whole burnt offerings, and victims, and incense, they now no longer exist, but all is truth. For a man must now circumcise not his flesh, but his evil thoughts, and crucify himself, and remove and slay his unreasonable desires. The woman was made dizzy by His discourse, and fainted in at the sublimity of what He said, and, in her trouble, hear what she says:

John 4:25–26

I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ: when He has come, He will tell us all things. Jesus says unto her, I am that speak unto you.

And whence came the Samaritans to expect the coming of Christ, seeing that they received Moses only? From the writings of Moses themselves. For even in the beginning He revealed the Son. Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness Genesis 1:26, was said to the Son. It was He who talked with Abraham in the tent. Genesis 18 And Jacob prophesying concerning Him said, A ruler shall not fail from Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until He come for whom it is reserved, and He is the expectation of nations. Genesis 18 And Moses himself says, The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet of your brethren like me, unto Him shall you hearken. Deuteronomy 18:15 And the circumstances attending the serpent, and the rod of Moses, and Isaac, and the sheep, and many other things they who chose might select as proclaiming His coming.

And why, pray, says one, did not Christ lead on the woman by these means? Why did He instance the serpent to Nicodemus, and mention prophecy to Nathanael, but to her say nothing of the kind? For what reason, and why? Because they were men, and were versed in these things, she a poor ignorant woman unpracticed in the Scriptures. Wherefore He does not speak to her from them, but draws her on by the water and by prophecy, and brings her to make mention of Christ and then reveals Himself; which had He at first told the woman when she had not questioned Him, He would have seemed to her to trifle and talk idly, while as it is by bringing her little by little to mention Him, at a fitting time He revealed Himself. To the Jews, who continually said, How long dost Thou make us to doubt? Tell us if You are the Christ John 10:24, to them He gave no clear answer, but to this woman He said plainly, that He is . For the woman was more fair-minded than the Jews; they did not enquire to learn, but always to mock at Him, for had they desired to learn, the teaching which was by His words, and by the Scriptures, and by His miracles would have been sufficient. The woman, on the contrary, said what she said from an impartial judgment and a simple mind, as is plain from what she did afterwards; for she both heard and believed, and netted others also, and in every circumstance we мая observe the carefulness and faith of the woman.

John 4:27

And upon this came His disciples, (very seasonably did they come when the teaching was finished,) and marveled that He talked with the woman, yet no man said, What seekest Thou? Or, Why talkest Thou with her?

3. At what did they marvel? At His want of pride and exceeding humility, that looked upon as He was, He endured with such lowliness of heart to talk with a woman poor, and a Samaritan. Still in their amazement they did not ask Him the reason, so well were they taught to keep the station of disciples, so much did they fear and reverence Him. For although they did not as yet hold the right opinion concerning Him, still they gave heed unto Him as to some marvelous one, and paid Him much respect. Yet they frequently are seen to act confidently; as when John lay upon His bosom, when they came to Him and said, Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? Matthew 18:1, when the sons of Zebedee entreated Him to set one of them on His right hand, and the other on His left. Why then did they not here question Him? Because since all those instances related to themselves, they had need to enquire into them, while what here took place was of no such great importance to them. And indeed John did that a long time after towards the very end, when He enjoyed greater confidence, and was bold in the love of Christ; for he it was, he says, whom Jesus loved. What could equal such blessedness?

But, beloved, let us not stop at this, the calling the Apostle blessed, but let us do all things that we also мая be of the blessed, let us imitate the Evangelist, and see what it was that caused such great love. What then was it? He left his father, his ship, and his net, and followed Jesus. Yet this he did in common with his brother, and Peter, and Andrew, and the rest of the Apostles. What then was the special thing which caused this great love? Shall we discover it? He says nothing of this kind about himself, but only that he was beloved; as to the righteous acts for which he was beloved he has modestly been silent. That Jesus loved him with a special love was clear to every one; yet John does not appear conversing with or questioning Jesus privately, as Peter often did, and Philip, and Judas, and Thomas, except only when he desired to show kindness and compliance to his fellow Apostle; for when the chief of the Apostles by beckoning constrained him, then he asked. For these two had great love each for the other. Thus, for instance, they are seen going up together into the Temple and speaking in common to the people. Yet Peter in many places is moved, and speaks more warmly than John. And at the end he hears Christ say, Peter, do you love Me more than these? John 21:15 Now it is clear that he who loved more than these was also beloved. But this in his case was shown by loving Jesus, in the case of the other by being beloved by Jesus.

What then was it which caused this special love? To my thinking, it was that the man displayed great gentleness and meekness, for which reason he does not appear in many places speaking openly. And how great a thing this is, is plain also from the case of Moses. It was this which made him such and so great as he was. There is nothing equal to lowliness of mind. For which cause Jesus with this began the Beatitudes, and when about to lay as it were the foundation and base of a mighty building, He placed first lowliness of mind. Without this a man cannot possibly be saved; though he fast, though he pray, though he give alms, if it be with a proud spirit, these things are abominable, if humility be not there; while if it be, all these things are amiable and lovely, and are done with safety. Let us then be modest, beloved, let us be modest; success is easy, if we be sober-minded. For after all what is it, O man, that excites you to pride? Do you see not the poverty of your nature? The unsteadiness of your will? Consider your end, consider the multitude of your sins. But perhaps because you do many righteous deeds you are proud. By that very pride you shall undo them all. Wherefore it behooves not so much him that has sinned as him that does righteousness to take pains to be humble. Why so? Because the sinner is constrained by conscience, while the other, except he be very sober, soon caught up as by a blast of wind is lifted on high, and made to vanish like the Pharisee. Do you give to the poor? What you give is not yours, but your Master's, common to you and your fellow-servants. For which cause you ought especially to be humbled, in the calamities of those who are your kindred foreseeing your own, and taking knowledge of your own nature in their cases. We ourselves perhaps are sprung from such ancestors; and if wealth has shifted to you, it is probable that it will leave you again. And after all, what is wealth? A vain shadow, dissolving smoke, a flower of the grass, or rather something meaner than a flower. Why then are you high-minded over grass? Does not wealth fall to thieves, and effeminates, and harlots, and tomb-breakers? Does this puff you up, that you have such as these to share in your possession? Or do you desire honor? Towards gaining honor nothing is more serviceable than almsgiving. For the honors arising from wealth and power are compulsory, and attended with hatred, but these others are from the free will and real feeling of the honorers; and therefore those who pay them can never give them. Now if men show such reverence for the merciful, and invoke all blessings upon them, consider what return, what recompense they shall receive from the merciful God. Let us then seek this wealth which endures forever, and never deserts us, that, becoming great here and glorious there, we мая obtain everlasting blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 34 on the Gospel of John

John 4:28–29

The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and says to the men, Come, see a Man which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?

1. We require much fervor and uproused zeal, for without these it is impossible to obtain the blessings promised to us. And to show this, Christ at one time says, Except a man take up his cross and follow Me, he is not worthy of Me Matthew 10:38; at another, I have come to send fire upon the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled? Luke 12:49; by both these desiring to represent to us a disciple full of heat and fire, and prepared for every danger. Such an one was this woman. For so kindled was she by His words, that she left her water pot and the purpose for which she came, ran into the city, and drew all the people to Jesus. Come, she says, see a Man which told me all things that ever I did.

Observe her zeal and wisdom. She came to draw water, and when she had lighted upon the true Well, she after that despised the material one; teaching us even by this trifling instance when we are listening to spiritual matters to overlook the things of this life, and make no account of them. For what the Apostles did, that, after her ability, did this woman also. They when they were called, left their nets; she of her own accord, without the command of any, leaves her water pot, and winged by joy performs the office of Evangelists. And she calls not one or two, as did Andrew and Philip, but having aroused a whole city and people, so brought them to Him.

Observe too how prudently she speaks; she said not, Come and see the Christ, but with the same condescension by which Christ had netted her she draws the men to Him; Come, she says, see a Man who told me all that ever I did. She was not ashamed to say that He told me all that ever I did. Yet she might have spoken otherwise, Come, see one that prophesies; but when the soul is inflamed with holy fire, it looks then to nothing earthly, neither to glory nor to shame, but belongs to one thing alone, the flame which occupies it.

Is not this the Christ? Observe again here the great wisdom of the woman; she neither declared the fact plainly, nor was she silent, for she desired not to bring them in by her own assertion, but to make them to share in this opinion by hearing Him; which rendered her words more readily acceptable to them. Yet He had not told all her life to her, only from what had been said she was persuaded (that He was informed) as to the rest. Nor did she say, Come, believe, but, Come, see; a gentler expression than the other, and one which more attracted them. Do you see the wisdom of the woman? She knew, she knew certainly that having but tasted that Well, they would be affected in the same manner as herself. Yet any one of the grosser sort would have concealed the reproof which Jesus had given; but she parades her own life, and brings it forward before all men, so as to attract and capture all.

John 4:31

In the mean time His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, eat. . .

Asked, here is besought, in their native language; for seeing Him wearied with the journey, and the oppressive heat, they entreated Him; for their request concerning food proceeded not from hastiness, but from loving affection for their Teacher? What then says Christ?

John 4:32–33

I have meat to eat that you know not of. Therefore, said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him anything to eat?

Why now do you wonder that the woman when she heard of water, still imagined mere water to be meant, when even the disciples are in the same case, and as yet suppose nothing spiritual, but are perplexed? Though they still show their accustomed modesty and reverence toward their Master, conversing one with the other, but not daring to put any question to Him. And this they do in other places, desiring to ask Him, but not asking. What then says Christ?

John 4:34

My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

He here calls the salvation of men meat, showing what an earnest desire He has of providing for us; for as we long for food, so He that we мая be saved. And hear how in all places He reveals not all off-hand, but first throwes the hearer into perplexity, in order that having begun to seek the meaning of what has been said, and then being perplexed and in difficulty, he мая when what he sought appears, receive it the more readily, and be made more attentive to listening. For wherefore said He not at once, My meat is to do the will of My Father? (though not even this would have been clear, yet clearer than the other.) But what says He? I have meat to eat that you know not of; for He desires, as I said, first to make them more attentive through their uncertainty, and by dark sayings like these to accustom them to listen to His words. But what is the will of the Father? He next speaks of this, and explains.

John 4:35

Say ye not, that there are yet four months, and then comes harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look upon the fields, for they are white already to harvest.

2. Behold, He again by familiar words leads them up to the consideration of greater matters; for when He spoke of meat, He signified nothing else than the salvation of the men who should come to Him; and again, the field and the harvest signify the very same thing, the multitude of souls prepared for the reception of the preaching; and the eyes of which He speaks are those both of the mind and of the body; (for they now beheld the crowd of Samaritans advancing;) and the readiness of their will He calls, fields already white. For as the ears of grain, when they have become white, and are ready for reaping, so these, He says, are prepared and fitted for salvation.

And wherefore instead of calling them fields and harvest, did He not plainly say, that the men were coming to believe and were ready to receive the Word, having been instructed by the Prophets; and now bringing forth fruit? What mean these figures used by Him? For this He does not here only, but through all the Gospel; and the Prophets also employ the same method, saying many things in a metaphorical manner. What then мая be the cause of this? For the grace of the Spirit did not ordain it to be so without a reason, but why and wherefore? On two accounts; one, that the discourse мая be more vivid, and bring what is said more clearly before our eyes. For the mind when it has laid hold on a familiar image of the matters in hand, is more aroused, and beholding them as it were in a picture, is occupied by them to a greater degree. This is one reason; the other is, that the statement мая be sweetened, and that the memory of what is said мая be more lasting. For assertion does not subdue and bring in an ordinary hearer so much as narration by objects, and the representation of experience. Which one мая here see most wisely effected by the parable.

John 4:36

And he that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit unto life eternal.

For the fruit of an earthly harvest profits not to life eternal, but to this which is for a time; but the spiritual fruit to that which has neither age nor death. Do you see that the expressions are of sense, but the thoughts spiritual, and that by the very words themselves He divides things earthly from heavenly? For when in discoursing of water He made this the peculiar property of the heavenly Water, that he who drinks it shall never thirst, so He does here also when He says, that this fruit is gathered unto eternal life.

That both he that sows and he that reaps мая rejoice together.

Who is he that sows? Who he that reaps? The Prophets are they that sowed but they reaped not, but the Apostles. Yet not on this account are they deprived of the pleasure and recompense of their labors, but they rejoice and are glad with us, although they reap not with us. For harvest is not such work as sowing. I therefore have kept you for that in which the toil is less and the pleasure greater, and not for sowing because in that there is much hardship and toil. In harvest the return is large, the labor not so great; nay there is much facility. By these arguments He here desires to prove, that the wish of the Prophets is, that all men should come to Me. This also the Law was engaged in effecting; and for this they sowed, that they might produce this fruit. He shows moreover that He sent them also, and that there was a very intimate connection between the New Covenant and the Old, and all this He effects at once by this parable. He makes mention also of a proverbial expression generally circulated.

John 4:37

Herein is that saying true, One sows and another reaps.

These words the many used whenever one party had supplied toil and another had reaped the fruits; and He says, that the proverb is in this instance especially true, for the Prophets labored, and you reap the fruits of their labors. He said not the rewards, (for neither did their great labor go unrewarded,) but the fruits. This also Daniel did, for he too makes mention of a proverb, Wickedness proceeds from the wicked; and David in his lamenting makes mention of a similar proverb. Therefore He said beforehand, that both he that sows and he that reaps мая rejoice together. For since He was about to declare, that one has sowed and another reaps, lest any one should deem that the Prophets were deprived of their reward, He asserts something strange and paradoxical, such as never chances in sensual things, but is peculiar to spiritual only. For in things of sense, if it chance that one sow and another reap, they do not rejoice together, but those who sowed are sad, as having labored for others, and those who reap alone rejoice. But here it is not so, but those who reap not what they sowed rejoice alike with those who reap; whence it is clear that they too share the reward.

John 4:38

I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labors; other men labored, and you are entered into their labors.

By this He the more encourages them; for when it seemed a very hard matter to go through all the world and preach the Gospel, He shows them that it is even most easy. The very difficult work was that other, which required great labor, the putting in the seed, and introducing the uninitiated soul to the knowledge of God. But wherefore utters He these sayings? It is that when He sends them to preach they мая not be confounded, as though sent on a difficult task. For that of the Prophets, He says, was the more difficult, and the fact witnesses to My word, that you have come to what is easy; because as in harvest time the fruits are collected with ease, and in one moment the floor is filled with sheaves, which await not the revolutions of the seasons, and winter, and spring, and rain, so it is now. The facts proclaim it aloud. While He was in the midst of saying these things, the Samaritans came forth, and the fruit was at once gathered together. On this account He said, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white. Thus He spoke, and the fact was clear, and the words seen (true) by the event. For says St. John,

John 4:39

Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

They perceived that the woman would not from favor have admired One who had rebuked her sins, nor to gratify another have paraded her own course of life.

3. Let us then also imitate this woman, and in the case of our own sins not be ashamed of men, but fear, as is meet, God who now beholds what is done, and who hereafter punishes those who do not now repent. At present we do the opposite of this, for we fear not Him who shall judge us, but shudder at those who do not in anything hurt us, and tremble at the shame which comes from them. Therefore in the very thing which we fear, in this do we incur punishment. For he who now regards only the reproach of men, but when God sees is not ashamed to do anything unseemly, and who will not repent and be converted, in that day will be made an example, not only before one or two, but in the sight of the whole world. For that a vast assembly is seated there to behold righteous actions as well as those which are not such, let the parable of the sheep and the goats teach you, as also the blessed Paul when He says, For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one мая receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad 2Corinthians 5:10, and again, Who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness. 1Corinthians 4:5 Have you done or imagined any evil thing, and do you hide it from man? Yet from God you hide it not. But for this thou cares nothing; the eyes of men, these are your fear. Think then that you will not be able to escape the sight even of men in that day ; for all things as in a picture shall then be set before our very eyes, so that each shall be self-condemned. This is clear even from the instance of Dives, for the poor man whom he had neglected, Lazarus I mean, he saw standing before his eyes, and the finger which he had often loathed, he intreats мая become a comfort to him then. I exhort you therefore, that although no one see what we do, yet that each of us enter into his own conscience, and set reason for his judge, and bring forward his transgressions, and if he desire them not to be exposed to public view then in that fearful day, let him now heal his wounds, let him apply to them the medicines of repentance. For it is in the power, yea, it is in the power of one full of ten thousand wounds to go hence whole. For if you forgive, He says, your sins are forgiven unto you. Matthew 6:14, not verbally quoted For as sins buried in Baptism appear no more, so these also shall disappear, if we be willing to repent. And repentance is the not doing the same again; for he that again puts his hand to the same, is like the dog that returns to his own vomit, and like him in the proverb who cards wool into the fire, and draws water into a cask full of holes. It behooves therefore to depart both in action and in thought from what we have dared to do, and having departed, to apply to the wounds the remedies which are the contraries of our sins. For instance: have you been grasping and covetous? Abstain from rapine, and apply almsgiving to the wound. Have you been a fornicator? Abstain from fornication, and apply chastity to the wound. Have you spoken ill of your brother, and injured him? Cease finding fault, and apply kindness. Let us thus act with respect to each point in which we have offended, and let us not carelessly pass by our sins, for there awaits us hereafter, there awaits us a season of account. Wherefore also Paul said, The Lord is at hand: be careful for nothing. Philippians 4:5–6 But we perhaps must add the contrary of this, The Lord is at hand, be careful. For they might well hear, Be careful for nothing, living as they did in affliction, and labors, and trials; but they who live by rapine, or in luxury, and who shall give a grievous reckoning, would in reason hear not this, but that other, The Lord is at hand, be careful. Since no long time now remains until the consummation, but the world is hastening to its end; this the wars declare, this the afflictions, this the earthquakes, this the love which has waxed cold. For as the body when in its last gasp and near to death, draws to itself ten thousand sufferings; and as when a house is about to fall, many portions are wont to fall beforehand from the roof and walls; so is the end of the world near and at the very doors, and therefore ten thousand woes are everywhere scattered abroad. If the Lord was then at hand, much more is He now at hand. If three hundred years ago, when those words were used, Paul called that season the fullness of time, much more would he have called the present so. But perhaps for this very reason some disbelieve, yet they ought on this account to believe the more. For whence do you know, O man, that the end is not at hand, and the words shortly to be accomplished? For as we speak of the end of the year not as being the last day, but also the last month, though it has thirty days; so if of so many years I call even four hundred years the end, I shall not be wrong; and so at that time Paul spoke of the end by anticipation. Let us then set ourselves in order, let us delight in the fear of God; for if we live here without fear of Him, His coming will surprise us suddenly, when we are neither careful, nor looking for Him. As Christ declared when He said, For as in the days of Noah, and as in the days of Lot, so shall it be at the end of this world. Matthew 24:37, not verbally quoted This also Paul declared when he said, For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 What means, as travail upon a woman with child? Often have pregnant women when sporting, or at their meals, or in the bath or market-place, and foreseeing nothing of what was coming, been seized in a moment by their pains. Now since our case is like theirs, let us ever be prepared, for we shall not always hear these things, we shall not always have power to do them. In the grave says David, who shall give You thanks? Psalm 6:5 Let us then repent here, that so we мая find God merciful unto us in the day that is to come, and be enabled to enjoy abundant forgiveness; which мая we all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 35 on the Gospel of John

John 4:40–43

So when the Samaritans had come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days. And many more believed because of His own Word; and said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that This is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee.

Nothing is worse than envy and malice, nothing more mischievous than vainglory; it is wont to mar ten thousand good things. So the Jews, who excelled the Samaritans in knowledge, and had been always familiar with the Prophets, were shown from this cause inferior to them. For these believed even on the testimony of the woman, and without having seen any sign, came forth beseeching Christ to tarry with them; but the Jews, when they had beheld His wonders, not only did not detain Him among them, but even drove Him away, and used every means to cast Him forth from their land, although His very Coming had been for their sake. The Jews expelled Him, but these even entreated Him to tarry with them. Was it not then rather fitting, tell me, that He should receive those who asked and besought Him, than that He should wait upon those who plotted against and repulsed Him, while to those who loved and desired to retain Him He gave not Himself? Surely this would not have been worthy of His tender care; He therefore both accepted them, and tarried with them two days. They desired to keep Him among them continually, (for this the Evangelist has shown by saying, that they besought Him that He would tarry with them,) but this He endured not, but stayed with them only two days; and in these many more believed on Him. Yet there was no likelihood that these would have believed, since they had seen no sign, and had hostile feelings towards the Jews; but still, inasmuch as they gave in sincerity their judgment on His words, this stood not in their way, but they received a notion which surmounted their hindrances, and vied with each other to reverence Him the more. For, says the Evangelist, they said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. The scholars overshot their instructress. With good reason might they condemn the Jews, both by their believing on, and their receiving Him. The Jews, for whose sake He had contrived the whole scheme, continually were for stoning Him, but these, when He was not even intending to come to them, drew Him to themselves. And they, even with signs, remain uncorrected; these, without signs, manifested great faith respecting Him, and glory in this very thing that they believe without them; while the others ceased not asking for signs and tempting Him.

Such need is there everywhere of an honest soul; and if truth lay hold on such an one, she easily masters it; or if she masters it not, this is owing not to any weakness of truth, but to want of candor in the soul itself. Since the sun too, when he encounters clear eyes, easily enlightens them; if he enlightens them not, it is the fault of their infirmity, not of his weakness.

Hear then what these say; We know that this is of a truth the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Do you see how they at once understood that He should draw the world to Him, that He came to order aright our common salvation, that He intended not to confine His care to the Jews, but to sow His Word everywhere? The Jews did not so, but going about to establish their own righteousness, submitted not themselves to the righteousness of God; while these confess that all are deserving of punishment, declaring with the Apostle, that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace. Romans 3:23–24 For by saying that He was the Saviour of the world, they showed that it was of a lost world, and He not simply a Saviour, but one of the very mightiest. For many had come to save, both Prophets and Angels ; but this, says one, is the True Saviour, who affords the true salvation, not that which is but for a time. This proceeded from pure faith. And in both ways are they admirable; because they believed, and because they did so without signs, (whom Christ also calls blessed, saying, Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,) John 20:29, and because they did so sincerely. Though they had heard the woman say doubtfully, Is not this the Christ? they did not also say, we too suspect, or, we think, but, we know, and not merely, we know, but, we know that this is of a truth the Saviour of the world. They acknowledged Christ not as one of the many, but as the Saviour indeed. Yet whom had they seen saved? They had but heard His words, and yet they spoke as they would have spoken had they beheld many and great marvels. And why do not the Evangelists tell us these words, and that He discoursed admirably? That you мая learn that they pass by many important matters, and yet have declared the whole to us by the event. For He persuaded an entire people and a whole city by His words. When His hearers are not persuaded, then the writers are constrained to mention what was said, lest any one from the insensibility of the hearers should give a judgment against Him who addressed them.

Now after two days He departed thence and went into Galilee.

John 4:44

For Jesus Himself testified that a Prophet has no honor in his own country.

Wherefore is this added? Because He departed not unto Capernaum, but into Galilee, and thence to Cana. For that you мая not enquire why He tarried not with His own people, but tarried with the Samaritans, the Evangelist puts the cause, saying that they gave no heed unto Him; on this account He went not there, that their condemnation might not be the greater. For I suppose that in this place He speaks of Capernaum as His country. Now, to show that there He received no honor, hear Him say, And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shall be brought down to hell. Matthew 11:23 He calls it His own country, because there He set forth the Word of the Dispensation, and more especially dwelt upon it. What then, says some one, do we not see many admired among their kindred? In the first place such judgments must not be formed from rare instances; and again, if some have been honored in their own, they would have been much more honored in a strange country, for familiarity is wont to make men easily despised.

John 4:45

Then when He had come into Galilee, the Galilæans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast, for they also came unto the feast.

Do you see that these men so ill spoken of are found most to come to Him? For one said, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? John 1:46, and another, Search and look, for out of Galilee arises no prophet. John 7:52 These things they said insulting Him, because He was supposed by the many to be of Nazareth, and they also reproached Him with being a Samaritan; You are a Samaritan, said one, and hast a devil. John 8:48 Yet behold, both Samaritans and Galilæans believe, to the shame of the Jews, and Samaritans are found better than Galilæans, for the first received Him through the words of the woman, the second when they had seen the miracles which He did.

John 4:46

So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine.

The Evangelist reminds the hearer of the miracle to exalt the praise of the Samaritans. The men of Cana received Him by reason of the miracles which He had done in Jerusalem and in that place; but not so the Samaritans, they received Him through His teaching alone.

That He came then to Cana, the Evangelist has said, but he has not added the cause why He came. Into Galilee He had come because of the envy of the Jews; but wherefore to Cana? At first He came, being invited to a marriage; but wherefore now? Methinks to confirm by His presence the faith which had been implanted by His miracle, and to draw them to Him the more by coming to them self-invited, by leaving His own country, and by preferring them.

And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.

John 4:47

When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judæa into Galilee, he went unto Him and besought Him that He would come down and heal his son.

This person certainly was of royal race, or possessed some dignity from his office, to which the title noble was attached. Some indeed think that this is the man mentioned by Matthew Matthew 8:5, but he is shown to be a different person, not only from his dignity, but also from his faith. That other, even when Christ was willing to go to him, entreats Him to tarry; this one, when He had made no such offer, draws Him to his house. The one says, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof; but this other even urges Him, saying, Come down ere my son die. In that instance He came down from the mountain, and entered into Capernaum; but here, as He came from Samaria, and went not into Capernaum but into Cana, this person met Him. The servant of the other was possessed by the palsy, this one's son by a fever.

And he came and besought Him that He would heal his son: for he was at the point of death. What says Christ?

John 4:48

Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.

Yet the very coming and beseeching Him was a mark of faith. And besides, after this the Evangelist witnesses to him, declaring that when Jesus said, Go, your son lives, he believed His word, and went. What then is that which He says here? Either He uses the words as approving of the Samaritans because they believed without signs; or, to touch Capernaum which was thought to be His own city, and of which this person was. Moreover, another man in Luke, who says, Lord, I believe, said besides, help my unbelief. And so if this ruler also believed, yet he believed not entirely or soundly, as is clear from his enquiring at what hour the fever left him, since he desired to know whether it did so of its own accord, or at the bidding of Christ. When therefore he knew that it was yesterday at the seventh hour, then himself believed and his whole house.

Do you see that he believed when his servants, not when Christ spoke? Therefore He rebukes the state of mind with which he had come to Him, and spoken as he did, (thus too He the more drew him on to belief,) because that before the miracle he had not believed strongly. That he came and entreated was nothing wonderful, for parents in their great affection are also wont to resort not only to physicians in whom they have confidence, but also to talk with those in whom they have no confidence, desiring to omit nothing whatever. Indeed, that he came without any strong purpose appears from this, that when Christ had come into Galilee, then he saw Him, whereas if he had firmly believed in Him, he would not, when his child was on the point of death, have hesitated to go into Judæa. Or if he was afraid, this is not to be endured either.

Observe how the very words show the weakness of the man; when he ought, after Christ had rebuked his state of mind, to have imagined something great concerning Him, even if he did not so before, listen how he drags along the ground.

John 4:49

Sir, come down ere my child die.

As though He could not raise him after death, as though He knew not what state the child was in. It is for this that Christ rebukes him and touches his conscience, to show that His miracles were wrought principally for the sake of the soul. For here He heals the father, sick in mind, no less than the son, in order to persuade us to give heed to Him, not by reason of His miracles, but of His teaching. For miracles are not for the faithful, but for the unbelieving and the grosser sort.

3. At that time then, owing to his emotion, the nobleman gave no great heed to the words, or to those only which related to his son, yet he would afterwards recollect what had been said, and draw from thence the greatest advantage. As indeed was the case.

But what can be the reason why in the case of the centurion He by a free offer undertook to come, while here though invited, He goes not? Because in the former case faith had been perfected, and therefore He undertook to go, that we might learn the rightmindedness of the man; but here the nobleman was imperfect. When therefore he continually urged Him, saying, Come down, and knew not yet clearly that even when absent He could heal, He shows that even this was possible unto Him in order that this man might gain from Jesus not going, that knowledge which the centurion had of himself. And so when He says, Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe, His meaning is, You have not yet the right faith, but still feel towards Me as towards a Prophet. Therefore to reveal Himself and to show that he ought to have believed even without miracles, He said what He said also to Philip, Believest thou that the Father is in Me and I in the Father? Or if not, believe Me for the very works' sake. c. xiv. 10, 11

John 4:51–53

And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Your son lives. Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said to him, Your son lives; and himself believed, and his whole house.

Do you see how evident the miracle was? Not simply nor in a common way was the child freed from danger, but all at once, so that what took place was seen to be the consequence not of nature, but the working of Christ. For when he had reached the very gates of death, as his father showed by saying, Come down ere my child die; he was all at once freed from the disease. A fact which roused the servants also, for they perhaps came to meet their master, not only to bring him the good news, but also deeming that the coming of Jesus was now superfluous, (for they knew that their master had gone there,) and so they met him even in the way. The man released from his fear, thenceforth escaped into faith, being desirous to show that what had been done was the result of his journey, and thenceforth he is ambitious of appearing not to have exerted himself to no purpose; so he ascertained all things exactly, and himself believed and his whole house. For the evidence was after this unquestionable. For they who had not been present nor had heard Christ speak nor known the time, when they had heard from their master that such and such was the time, had incontrovertible demonstration of His power. Wherefore they also believed.

What now are we taught by these things? Not to wait for miracles, nor to seek pledges of the Power of God. I see many persons even now become more pious, when during the sufferings of a child or the sickness of a wife they enjoy any comfort, yet they ought even if they obtain it not, to persist just the same in giving thanks, in glorifying God. Because it is the part of right-minded servants, and of those who feel such affection and love as they ought for their Master, not only when pardoned, but also when scourged, to run to Him. For these also are effects of the tender care of God; Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges, it says, every son whom He receives. Hebrews 12:6 When therefore a man serves Him only in the season of ease, he gives proofs of no great love, and loves not Christ purely. And why speak I of health, or abundant riches, or poverty, or disease? Should thou hear of the fiery pit or of any other dreadful thing, not even so must thou cease from speaking good of your Master, but suffer and do all things because of your love for Him. For this is the part of right-minded servants and of an unswerving soul; and he who is disposed after this sort will easily endure the present, and obtain good things to come, and enjoy much confidence in the presence of God; which мая it be that we all obtain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 36 on the Gospel of John

John 4:54–5:1

This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He had come out of Judæa into Galilee. After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

1. As in gold mines one skillful in what relates to them would not endure to overlook even the smallest vein as producing much wealth, so in the holy Scriptures it is impossible without loss to pass by one jot or one tittle, we must search into all. For they all are uttered by the Holy Spirit, and nothing useless is written in them.

Consider, for instance, what the Evangelist in this place says, This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He had come out of Judæa into Galilee. Even the word second he has added not without cause, but to exalt yet more the praise of the Samaritans, by showing that even when a second miracle had been wrought, they who beheld it had not yet reached as high as those who had not seen one.

After this there was a feast of the Jews. What feast? Methinks that of Pentecost. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Continually at the feasts He frequents the City, partly that He might appear to feast with them, partly that He might attract the multitude that was free from guile; for during these days especially, the more simply disposed ran together more than at other times.

John 5:2–3

Now there is at Jerusalem a sheep pool, called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of halt, blind, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

What manner of cure is this? What mystery does it signify to us? For these things are not written carelessly, or without a purpose, but as by a figure and type they show in outline things to come, in order that what was exceedingly strange might not by coming unexpectedly harm among the many the power of faith. What then is it that they show in outline? A Baptism was about to be given, possessing much power, and the greatest of gifts, a Baptism purging all sins, and making men alive instead of dead. These things then are foreshown as in a picture by the pool, and by many other circumstances. And first is given a water which purges the stains of our bodies, and those defilements which are not, but seem to be, as those from touching the dead, those from leprosy, and other similar causes; under the old covenant one мая see many things done by water on this account. However, let us now proceed to the matter in hand.

First then, as I before said, He causes defilements of our bodies, and afterwards infirmities of different kinds, to be done away by water. Because God, desiring to bring us nearer to faith in baptism, no longer heals defilements only, but diseases also. For those figures which came nearer [in time] to the reality, both as regarded Baptism, and the Passion, and the rest, were plainer than the more ancient; and as the guards near the person of the prince are more splendid than those before, so was it with the types. And an Angel came down and troubled the water, and endued it with a healing power, that the Jews might learn that much more could the Lord of Angels heal the diseases of the soul. Yet as here it was not simply the nature of the water that healed, (for then this would have always taken place,) but water joined to the operation of the Angel; so in our case, it is not merely the water that works, but when it has received the grace of the Spirit, then it puts away all our sins. Around this pool lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water; but then infirmity was a hindrance to him who desired to be healed, now each has power to approach, for now it is not an Angel that troubles, it is the Lord of Angels who works all. The sick man cannot now say, I have no man; he cannot say, While I am coming another steps down before me; though the whole world should come, the grace is not spent, the power is not exhausted, but remains equally great as it was before. Just as the sun's beams give light every day, yet are not exhausted, nor is their light made less by giving so abundant a supply; so, and much more, the power of the Spirit is in no way lessened by the numbers of those who enjoy it. And this miracle was done in order that men, learning that it is possible by water to heal the diseases of the body, and being exercised in this for a long time, might more easily believe that it can also heal the diseases of the soul.

But why did Jesus, leaving the rest, come to one who was of thirty-eight years standing? And why did He ask him, Will you be made whole? Not that He might learn, that was needless; but that He might show the man's perseverance, and that we might know that it was on this account that He left the others and came to him. What then says he? Yea Lord, he says, but I have no man when the water is troubled to put me into the pool, but while I am coming another steps down before me.

It was that we might learn these circumstances that Jesus asked, Will you be made whole? and said not, Will you that I heal you? (for as yet the man had formed no exalted notions concerning Him,) but Will you be made whole? Astonishing was the perseverance of the paralytic, he was of thirty and eight years standing, and each year hoping to be freed from his disease, he continued in attendance, and withdrew not. Had he not been very persevering, would not the future, if not the past, have been sufficient to lead him from the spot? Consider, I pray you, how watchful it was likely that the other sick men there would be since the time when the water was troubled was uncertain. The lame and halt indeed might observe it, but how did the blind see? Perhaps they learned it from the clamor which arose.

2. Let us be ashamed then, beloved, let us be ashamed, and groan over our excessive sloth. Thirty and eight years had that man been waiting without obtaining what he desired, and withdrew not. And he had failed not through any carelessness of his own, but through being oppressed and suffering violence from others, and not even thus did he grow dull; while we if we have persisted for ten days to pray for anything and have not obtained it, are too slothful afterwards to employ the same zeal. And on men we wait for so long a time, warring and enduring hardships and performing servile ministrations, and often at last failing in our expectation, but on our Master, from whom we are sure to obtain a recompense greater than our labors, (for, says the Apostle, Hope makes not ashamed Romans 5:5) on Him we endure not to wait with becoming diligence. What chastisement does this deserve! For even though we could receive nothing from Him, ought we not to deem the very conversing with Him continually the cause of ten thousand blessings? But continual prayer is a laborious thing. And what that belongs to virtue is not laborious? In truth, says some one, this very point is full of great difficulty, that pleasure is annexed to vice, and labor to virtue. And many, I think, make this a question. What then can be the reason? God gave us at the beginning a life free from care and exempt from labor. We used not the gift aright, but were perverted by doing nothing, and were banished from Paradise. On which account He made our life for the future one of toil, assigning as it were His reasons for this to mankind, and saying, I allowed you at the beginning to lead a life of enjoyment, but you were rendered worse by liberty, wherefore I commanded that henceforth labor and sweat be laid upon you. And when even this labor did not restrain us, He next gave us a law containing many commandments, imposing it on us like bits and curbs placed upon an unruly horse to restrain his prancings, just as horse breakers do. This is why life is laborious, because not to labor is wont to be our ruin. For our nature cannot bear to be doing nothing, but easily turns aside to wickedness. Let us suppose that the man who is temperate, and he who rightly performs the other virtues, has no need of labor, but that they do all things in their sleep, still how should we have employed our ease? Would it not have been for pride and boastfulness? But wherefore, says some one, has great pleasure been attached to vice, great labor and toil to virtue? Why, what thanks would you have had, and for what would you have received a reward, if the matter had not been one of difficulty? Even now I can show you many who naturally hate intercourse with women, and avoid conversation with them as impure; shall we then call these chaste, shall we crown these, tell me, and proclaim them victors? By no means. Chastity is self-restraint, and the mastering pleasures which fight, just as in war the trophies are most honorable when the contest is violent, not when no one raises a hand against us. Many are by their very nature passionless; shall we call these good tempered? Not at all. And so the Lord after naming three manners of the eunuch state, leaves two of them uncrowned, and admits one into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:12 But what need, says one, was there of wickedness? I say this too. What is it then which made wickedness to be? What but our willful negligence? But, says one, there ought to be only good men. Well, what is proper to the good man? Is it to watch and be sober, or to sleep and snore? And why, says one, seemed class="greek">thoughtest thou. «}--> it not good that a man should act rightly without laboring? You speak words which become the cattle or gluttons, or who make their belly their god. For to prove that these are the words of folly, answer me this. Suppose there were a king and a general, and while the king was asleep or drunk, the general should endure hardship and erect a trophy, whose would you count the victory to be? Who would enjoy the pleasure of what was done? Do you see that the soul is more especially disposed towards those things for which she has labored? And therefore God has joined labors to virtue, wishing to make us attached to her. For this cause we admire virtue, even although we act not rightly ourselves, while we condemn vice even though it be very pleasant. And if you say, Why do we not admire those who are good by nature more than those who are so by choice? we reply, Because it is just to prefer him that labors to him that labors not. For why is it that we labor? It is because thou did not bear with moderation the not laboring. Nay more, if one enquire exactly, in other ways also sloth is wont to undo us, and to cause us much trouble. Let us, if you will, shut a man up, only feeding and pampering him, not allowing him to walk nor conducting him forth to work, but let him enjoy table and bed, and be in luxury continually; what could be more wretched than such a life? But, says one, to work is one thing, to labor is another. Yea, but it was in man's power then to work without labor. And is this, says he, possible? Yea, it is possible; God even desired it, but you endured it not. Therefore He placed you to work in the garden, marking out employment, but joining with it no labor. For had man labored at the beginning, God would not afterwards have put labor by way of punishment. For it is possible to work and not to be wearied, as do the angels. To prove that they work, hear what David says; You that excel in strength, you that do His word. Psalm 103:20, Septuagint Want of strength causes much labor now, but then it was not so. For he that has entered into His rest, has ceased, says one, from his works, as God from His Hebrews 4:10: not meaning here idleness, but the ceasing from labor. For God works even now, as Christ says, My Father works hitherto, and I work. John 5:17 Wherefore I exhort you that, laying aside all carelessness, you be zealous for virtue. For the pleasure of wickedness is short, but the pain lasting; of virtue, on the contrary, the joy grows not old, the labor is but for a season. Virtue even before the crowns are distributed animates her workman, and feeds him with hopes; vice even before the time of vengeance punishes him who works for her, wringing and terrifying his conscience, and making it apt to imagine all (evils). Are not these things worse than any labors, than any toils? And if these things were not so, if there were pleasure, what could be more worthless than that pleasure? For as soon as it appears it flies away, withering and escaping before it has been grasped, whether you speak of the pleasure of beauty, or that of luxury, or that of wealth, for they cease not daily to decay. But when there is besides (for this pleasure) punishment and vengeance, what can be more miserable than those who go after it? Knowing then this, let us endure all for virtue, so shall we enjoy true pleasure, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 37 on the Gospel of John

John 5:6–7

Jesus says unto him, Will you be made whole? The impotent man answered Him, Yea, Sir, but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool.

1. Great is the profit of the divine Scriptures, and all-sufficient is the aid which comes from them. And Paul declared this when he said, Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written aforetime for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world have come, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4, 1Corinthians 10:11 For the divine oracles are a treasury of all manner of medicines, so that whether it be needful to quench pride, to lull desire to sleep, to tread under foot the love of money, to despise pain, to inspire confidence, to gain patience, from them one мая find abundant resource. For what man of those who struggle with long poverty or who are nailed to a grievous disease, will not, when he reads the passage before us, receive much comfort? Since this man who had been paralytic for thirty and eight years, and who saw each year others delivered, and himself bound by his disease, not even so fell back and despaired, though in truth not merely despondency for the past, but also hopelessness for the future, was sufficient to over-strain him. Hear now what he says, and learn the greatness of his sufferings. For when Christ had said, Will you be made whole? Yea, Lord, he says, but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool. What can be more pitiable than these words? What more sad than these circumstances? Do you see a heart crushed through long sickness? Do you see all violence subdued? He uttered no blasphemous word, nor such as we hear the many use in reverses, he cursed not his day, he was not angry at the question, nor did he say, Have You come to make a mock and a jest of us, that Thou asks whether I desire to be made whole? but replied gently, and with great mildness, Yea, Lord; yet he knew not who it was that asked him, nor that He would heal him, but still he mildly relates all the circumstances and asks nothing further, as though he were speaking to a physician, and desired merely to tell the story of his sufferings. Perhaps he hoped that Christ might be so far useful to him as to put him into the water, and desired to attract Him by these words. What then says Jesus?

John 5:8

Rise, take up your bed, and walk.

Now some suppose that this is the man in Matthew who was lying on a bed Matthew 9:2; but it is not so, as is clear in many ways. First, from his wanting persons to stand forward for him. That man had many to care for and to carry him, this man not a single one; wherefore he said, I have no man. Secondly, from the manner of answering; the other uttered no word, but this man relates his whole case. Thirdly, from the season and the time; this man was healed at a feast, and on the Sabbath, that other on a different day. The places too were different; one was cured in a house, the other by the pool. The manner also of the cure was altered; there Christ said, Your sins be forgiven you, but here He braced the body first, and then cared for the soul. In that case there was remission of sins, (for He says, Your sins be forgiven you,) but in this, warning and threats to strengthen the man for the future; Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you. John 5:14 The charges also of the Jews are different; here they object to Jesus, His working on the Sabbath, there they charge Him with blasphemy.

Consider now, I pray you, the exceeding wisdom of God. He raised not up the man at once, but first makes him familiar by questioning, making way for the coming faith; nor does He only raise, but bids him take up his bed, so as to confirm the miracle that had been wrought, and that none might suppose what was done to be illusion or a piece of acting. For he would not, unless his limbs had been firmly and thoroughly compacted, have been able to carry his bed. And this Christ often does, effectually silencing those who would fain be insolent. So in the case of the loaves, that no one might assert that the men had been merely satisfied, and that what was done was an illusion, He caused that there should be many relics of the loaves. So to the leper that was cleansed He said, Go, show yourself to the priest Matthew 8:4; at once providing most certain proof of the cleansing, and stopping the shameless mouths of those who asserted that He was legislating in opposition to God. This also He did in like manner in the case of the wine; for He did not merely show it to them, but also caused it to be borne to the governor of the feast, in order that one who knew nothing of what had been done, by his confession might bear to Him unsuspected testimony; wherefore the Evangelist says, that the ruler of the feast knew not whence it was, thus showing the impartiality of his testimony. And in another place, when He raised the dead, He said, Give ye him to eat; supplying this proof of a real resurrection, and by these means persuading even the foolish that He was no deceiver, no dealer in illusions, but that He had come for the salvation of the common nature of mankind.

2. But why did not Jesus require faith of this man, as He did in the case of others, saying, Believest thou that I am able to do this? It was because the man did not yet clearly know who He was; and it is not before, but after the working of miracles that He is seen so doing. For persons who had beheld His power exerted on others would reasonably have this said to them, while of those who had not yet learned who He was, but who were to know afterwards by means of signs, it is after the miracles that faith is required. And therefore Matthew does not introduce Christ as having said this at the beginning of His miracles, but when He had healed many, to the two blind men only.

Observe however in this way the faith of the paralytic. When he had heard, Take up your bed and walk, he did not mock, nor say, What can this mean? An Angel comes down and troubles the water, and heals only one, and do You, a man, by a bare command and word hope to be able to do greater things than Angels? This is mere vanity, boasting, mockery. But he neither said nor imagined anything like this, but at once he heard and arose, and becoming whole, was not disobedient to Him that gave the command; for immediately he was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked. What followed was even far more admirable. That he believed at first, when no one troubled him, was not so marvelous, but that afterwards, when the Jews were full of madness and pressed upon him on all sides, accusing and besieging him and saying, It is not lawful for you to take up your bed, that then he gave no heed to their madness, but most boldly in the midst of the assembly proclaimed his Benefactor and silenced their shameless tongues, this, I say, was an act of great courage. For when the Jews arose against him, and said in a reproachful and insolent manner to him («It is not lawful . . .»):

John 5:10–11

It is the Sabbath day, it is not lawful for you to carry your bed . . . He that made me whole, the Same said to me, Take up your bed, and walk.

Hear what he says («He that made me whole . . .»), all but saying, You are silly and mad who bid me not to take Him for my Teacher who has delivered me from a long and grievous malady, and not to obey whatever He мая command. Had he chosen to act in an unfair manner, he might have spoke differently, as thus, I do not this of my own will, but at the bidding of another; if this be a matter of blame, blame him who gave the order, and I will set down the bed. And he might have concealed the cure, for he well knew that they were vexed not so much at the breaking of the Sabbath, as at the curing of his infirmity. Yet he neither concealed this, nor said that, nor asked for pardon, but with loud voice confessed and proclaimed the benefit. Thus did the paralytic; but consider how unfairly they acted. For they said not, Who is it that has made you whole? on this point they were silent, but kept on bringing forward the seeming transgression.

John 5:12–13

What man is that which said to you, Take up your bed and walk? And he that was healed knew not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place.

And why did Jesus conceal Himself? First, that while He was absent, the testimony of the man might be unsuspected, for he who now felt himself whole was a credible witness of the benefit. And in the next place, that He might not cause the fury of the Jews to be yet more inflamed, for the very sight of one whom they envy is wont to kindle not a small spark in malicious persons. On this account He retired, and left the deed by itself to plead its cause among them, that He might not say anything in person respecting Himself, but that they might do so who had been healed, and with them also the accusers. Even these last for a while testify to the miracle, for they said not, Wherefore have you commanded these things to be done on the Sabbath day? but, Wherefore doest thou these things on the Sabbath day? not being displeased at the transgression, but envious at the restoration of the paralytic. Yet in respect of human labor, what the paralytic did was rather a work, for the other was a saying and a word. Here then He commands another to break the Sabbath, but elsewhere He does the same Himself, mixing clay and anointing a man's eyes John 9; yet He does these things not transgressing, but going beyond the Law. And on this we shall hereafter speak. For He does not, when accused by the Jews respecting the Sabbath, always defend Himself in the same terms, and this we must carefully observe.

3. But let us consider awhile how great an evil is envy, how it disables the eyes of the soul to the endangering his salvation who is possessed by it. For as madmen often thrust their swords against their own bodies, so also malicious persons looking only to one thing, the injury of him they envy, care not for their own salvation. Men like these are worse than wild beasts; they when wanting food, or having first been provoked by us, arm themselves against us; but these men when they have received kindness, have often repaid their benefactors as though they had wronged them. Worse than wild beasts are they, like the devils, or perhaps worse than even those; for they against us indeed have unceasing hostility, but do not plot against those of their own nature, (and so by this Jesus silenced the Jews when they said that He cast out devils by Beelzebub,) but these men neither respect their common nature, nor spare their own selves. For before they vex those whom they envy they vex their own souls, filling them with all manner of trouble and despondency, fruitlessly and in vain. For wherefore do you grieve, O man, at the prosperity of your neighbor? We ought to grieve at the ills we suffer, not because we see others in good repute. Wherefore this sin is stripped of all excuse. The fornicator мая allege his lust, the thief his poverty, the man-slayer his passion, frigid excuses and unreasonable, still they have these to allege. But what reason, tell me, will you name? None other at all, but that of intense wickedness. If we are commanded to love our enemies, what punishment shall we suffer if we hate our very friends? And if he who loves those that love him will be in no better a state than the heathen, what excuse, what palliation shall he have who injures those that have done him no wrong? Hear Paul, what he says, Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing 1Corinthians 13:3; now it is clear to every one that where envy and malice are, there charity is not. This feeling is worse than fornication and adultery, for these go no farther than him who does them, but the tyranny of envy has overturned entire Churches, and has destroyed the whole world. Envy is the mother of murder. Through this Cain slew Abel his brother; through this Esau (would have slain) Jacob, and his brethren Joseph, through this the devil all mankind. Thou indeed now killest not, but thou dost many things worse than murder, desiring that your brother мая act unseemly, laying snares for him on all sides, paralyzing his labors on the side of virtue, grieving that he pleases the Master of the world. Yet you war not with your brother, but with Him whom he serves, Him you insult when you prefer your glory to His. And what is in truth worst of all, is that this sin seems to be an unimportant one, while in fact it is more grievous than any other; for though you show mercy and watchest and fastest, you are more accursed than any if you envy your brother. As is clear from this circumstance also. A man of the Corinthians was once guilty of adultery, yet he was charged with his sin and soon restored to righteousness; Cain envied Abel; but he was not healed, and although God Himself continually charmed the wound, he became more pained and wave-tossed, and was hurried on to murder. Thus this passion is worse than that other, and does not easily permit itself to be cured except we give heed. Let us then by all means tear it up by the roots, considering this, that as we offend God when we waste with envy at other men's blessings, so when we rejoice with them we are well pleasing to Him, and render ourselves partakers of the good things laid up for the righteous. Therefore Paul exhorts us to Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep Romans 12:15, that on either hand we мая reap great profit.

Considering then that even when we labor not, by rejoicing with him that labors, we become sharers of his crown, let us cast aside all envy, and implant charity in our souls, that by applauding those of our brethren who are well pleasing unto God, we мая obtain both present and future good things, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

Homily 38 on the Gospel of John

John 5:14

Afterward Jesus finds him in the Temple, and said to him, Behold, you are made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you.

1. A fearful thing is sin, fearful, and the ruin of the soul, and the mischief oftentimes through its excess has overflowed and attacked men's bodies also. For since for the most part when the soul is diseased we feel no pain, but if the body receive though but a little hurt, we use every exertion to free it from its infirmity, because we are sensible of the infirmity, therefore God oftentimes punishes the body for the transgressions of the soul, so that by means of the scourging of the inferior part, the better part also мая receive some healing. Thus too among the Corinthians Paul restored the adulterer, checking the disease of the soul by the destruction of the flesh, and having applied the knife to the body, so repressed the evil 1Corinthians 5:5; like some excellent physician employing external cautery for dropsy or spleen, when they refuse to yield to internal remedies. This also Christ did in the case of the paralytic; as He showed when He said, Behold, you are made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you.

Now what do we learn from this? First, that his disease had been produced by his sins; secondly, that the accounts of hell fire are to be believed; thirdly, that the punishment is long, nay endless. Where now are those who say, I murdered in an hour, I committed adultery in a little moment of time, and am I eternally punished? For behold this man had not sinned for so many years as he suffered, for he had spent a whole lifetime in the length of his punishment; and sins are not judged by time, but by the nature of the transgressions. Besides this, we мая see another thing, that though we have suffered severely for former sins, if we afterwards fall into the same, we shall suffer much more severely. And with good reason; for he who is not made better even by punishment, is afterwards led as insensible and a despiser to still heavier chastisement. The fault should of itself be sufficient to check and to render more sober the man who once has slipped, but when not even the addition of punishment effects this, he naturally requires more bitter torments. Now if even in this world when after punishment we fall into the same sins, we are chastised yet more severely then before, ought we not when after sinning we have not been punished at all, to be then very exceedingly afraid and to tremble, as being about to endure something irreparable? And wherefore, says some one, are not all thus punished? For we see many bad men well in body, vigorous, and enjoying great prosperity. But let us not be confident, let us mourn for them in this case most of all, since their having suffered nothing here, helps them on to a severer vengeance hereafter. As Paul declares when he says, But now that we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world 1Corinthians 11:32; for the punishments here are for warning, there for vengeance.

What then, says one, do all diseases proceed from sin? Not all, but most of them; and some proceed from different kinds of loose living, since gluttony, intemperance, and sloth, produce such like sufferings. But the one rule we have to observe, is to bear every stroke thankfully; for they are sent because of our sins, as in the Kings we see one attacked by gout 1 Kings 15:23; they are sent also to make us approved, as the Lord says to Job, Do you think that I have spoken to you, save that you might appear righteous? Job 60:8, Septuagint

But why is it that in the case of these paralytics Christ brings forward their sins? For He says also to him in Matthew who lay on a bed, Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you Matthew 9:2: and to this man, Behold, you are made whole; sin no more. I know that some slander this paralytic, asserting that he was an accuser of Christ, and that therefore this speech was addressed to him; what then shall we say of the other in Matthew, who heard nearly the same words? For Christ says to him also, Your sins be forgiven you. Whence it is clear, that neither was this man thus addressed on the account which they allege. And this we мая see more clearly from what follows; for, says the Evangelist, Afterward Jesus finds him in the Temple, which is an indication of his great piety; for he departed not into the market places and walks, nor gave himself up to luxury and ease, but remained in the Temple, although about to sustain so violent an attack and to be harassed by all there. Yet none of these things persuaded him to depart from the Temple. Moreover Christ having found him, even after he had conversed with the Jews, implied nothing of the kind. For had He desired to charge him with this, He would have said to him, Are you again attempting the same sins as before, are you not made better by your cure? Yet He said nothing of the kind, but merely secures him for the future.

2. Why then, when He had cured the halt and maimed, did He not in any instance make mention of the like? Methinks that the diseases of these (the paralytic) arose from acts of sin, those of the others from natural infirmity. Or if this be not so, then by means of these men, and by the words spoken to them, He has spoken to the rest also. For since this disease is more grievous than any other, by the greater He corrects also the less. And as when He had healed a certain other He charged him to give glory to God, addressing this exhortation not to him only but through him to all, so He addresses to these, and by these to all the rest of mankind, that exhortation and advice which was given to them by word of mouth. Besides this we мая also say, that Jesus perceived great endurance in his soul, and addressed the exhortation to him as to one who was able to receive His command, keeping him to health both by the benefit, and by the fear of future ills.

And observe the absence of boasting. He said not, Behold, I have made you whole, but, You are made whole; sin no more. And again, not, lest I punish you, but, lest a worse thing come unto you; putting both expressions not personally, and showing that the cure was rather of grace than of merit. For He declared not to him that he was delivered after suffering the deserved amount of punishment, but that through lovingkindness he was made whole. Had this not been the case, He would have said, Behold, you have suffered a sufficient punishment for your sins, be steadfast for the future. But now He spoke not so, but how? Behold, you are made whole; sin no more. Let us continually repeat these words to ourselves, and if after having been chastised we have been delivered, let each say to himself, Behold, you are made whole; sin no more. But if we suffer not punishment though continuing in the same courses, let us use for our charm that word of the Apostle, The goodness of God leads [us] to repentance, but after [our] hardness and impenitent heart, [we] treasure up unto [ourselves] wrath. Romans 2:4–5

And not only by strengthening the sick man's body, but also in another way, did He afford him a strong proof of His Divinity; for by saying, Sin no more, He showed that He knew all the transgressions that had formerly been committed by him; and by this He would gain his belief as to the future.

John 5:15

The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus that had made him whole.

Again observe him continuing in the same right feeling. He says not, This is he who said, Take up your bed, but when they continually advanced this seeming charge, he continually puts forward the defense, again declaring his Healer, and seeking to attract and attach others to Him. For he was not so unfeeling as after such a benefit and charge to betray his Benefactor, and to speak as he did with an evil intention. Had he been a wild beast, had he been something unlike a man and of stone, the benefit and the fear would have been enough to restrain him, since, having the threat lodged within, he would have dreaded lest he should suffer a worse thing, having already received the greatest pledges of the power of his Physician. Besides, had he wished to slander Him, he would have said nothing about his own cure, but would have mentioned and urged against Him the breach of the Sabbath. But this is not the case, surely it is not; the words are words of great boldness and candor; he pro claims his Benefactor no less than the blind man did. For what said he? He made clay, and anointed my eyes John 9:6; and so this man of whom we now speak, It is Jesus who made me whole.

John 5:16

Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day.

What then says Christ?

John 5:17

My Father works hitherto, and I work.

When there was need to make excuse for the Disciples, He brought forward David their fellow-servant, saying, Have ye not read what David did when he was an hungered? Matthew 12:2 But when excuse was to be made for Himself, He betook Himself to the Father, showing in two ways His Equality, by calling God His Father peculiarly, and by doing the same things which He did. And wherefore did He not mention what took place at Jericho ? Because He wished to raise them up from earth that they might no longer attend to Him as to a man, but as to God, and as to one who ought to legislate: since had He not been The Very Son and of the same Essence, the defense would have been worse than the charge. For if a viceroy who had altered a royal law should, when charged with so doing, excuse himself in this manner, and say, Yea, for the king also has annulled laws, he would not be able to escape, but would thus increase the weight of the charge. But in this instance, since the dignity is equal, the defense is made perfect on most secure grounds. From the charges, says He, from which you absolve God, absolve Me also. And therefore He said first, My Father, that He might persuade them even against their will to allow to Him the same, through reverence of His clearly asserted Sonship.

If any one say, And how does the Father 'work,' who ceased on the seventh day from all His works? let him learn the manner in which He works. What then is the manner of His working? He cares for, He holds together all that has been made. Therefore when you behold the sun rising and the moon running in her path, the lakes, and fountains, and rivers, and rains, the course of nature in the seeds and in our own bodies and those of irrational beings, and all the rest by means of which this universe is made up, then learn the ceaseless working of the Father. For He makes His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45 And again; If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the fire Matthew 6:30; and speaking of the birds He said, Your Heavenly Father feeds them.

3. In that place then He did all on the Sabbath day by words only, and added nothing more, but refuted their charges by what was done in the Temple and from their own practice. But here where He commanded a work to be done, the taking up a bed, (a thing of no great importance as regarded the miracle, though by it He showed one point, a manifest violation of the Sabbath,) He leads up His discourse to something greater, desiring the more to awe them by reference to the dignity of the Father, and to lead them up to higher thought. Therefore when His discourse is concerning the Sabbath, He makes not His defense as man only, or as God only, but sometimes in one way, sometimes in the other; because He desired to persuade them both of the condescension of the Dispensation, and the Dignity of His Godhead. Therefore He now defends Himself as God, since had He always conversed with them merely as a man, they would have continued in the same low condition. Wherefore that this мая not be, He brings forward the Father. Yet the creation itself works on the Sabbath, (for the sun runs, rivers flow, fountains bubble, women bear,) but that you мая learn that He is not of creation, He said not, Yea, I work, for creation works, but, Yea, I work, for My Father works.

John 5:18

Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

And this he asserted not by words merely, but by deeds, for not in speech alone, but also yet oftener by actions He declared it. Why so? Because they might object to His words and charge Him with arrogance, but when they saw the truth of His actions proved by results, and His power proclaimed by works, after that they could say nothing against Him.

But they who will not receive these words in a right mind assert, that Christ made not Himself equal to God, but that the Jews suspected this. Come then let us go over what has been said from the beginning. Tell me, did the Jews persecute Him, or did they not? It is clear to every one that they did. Did they persecute Him for this or for something else? It is again allowed that it was for this. Did He then break the Sabbath, or did He not? Against the fact that He did, no one can have anything to say. Did He call God His Father, or did He not call Him so? This too is true. Then the rest also follows by the same consequence; for as to call God His Father, to break the Sabbath, and to be persecuted by the Jews for the former and more especially for the latter reason, belonged not to a false imagination, but to actual fact, so to make Himself equal to God was a declaration of the same meaning.

And this one мая see more clearly from what He had before said, for My Father works, and I work, is the expression of One declaring Himself equal to God. For in these words He has marked no difference. He said not, He works, and I minister, but, As He works, so work I; and has declared absolute Equality. But if He had not wished to establish this, and the Jews had supposed so without reason, He would not have allowed their minds to be deceived, but would have corrected this. Besides, the Evangelist would not have been silent on the subject, but would have plainly said that the Jews supposed so, but that Jesus did not make Himself equal to God. As in another place he does this very thing, when he perceives that something was said in one way, and understood in another; as, Destroy this Temple, said Christ, and in three days I will raise It up John 2:19; speaking of His Flesh. But the Jews, not understanding this, and supposing that the words were spoken of the Jewish Temple, said, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will You rear it up in three days? Since then He said one thing, and they imagined another, (for He spoke of His Flesh, and they thought that the words were spoken of their Temple,) the Evangelist remarking on this, or rather correcting their imagination, goes on to say, But He spoke of the Temple of His Body. So that here also, if Christ had not made Himself equal with God, had not wished to establish this, and yet the Jews had imagined that He did, the writer would here also have corrected their supposition, and would have said, The Jews thought that He made Himself equal to God, but indeed He spoke not of equality. And this is done not in this place only, nor by this Evangelist only, but again elsewhere another Evangelist is seen to do the same. For when Christ warned His disciples, saying, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees Matthew 16:6, and they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread, and He spoke of one thing, calling their doctrine leaven, but the disciples imagined another, supposing that the words were said of bread; it is not now the Evangelist who sets them right, but Christ Himself, speaking thus, How is it that you do not understand, that I spoke not to you concerning bread? But here there is nothing of the kind.

But, says some one, to remove this very thought Christ has added,

John 5:19

'The Son can do nothing of Himself.'

Man! He does the contrary. He says this not to take away, but to confirm, His Equality. But attend carefully, for this is no common question. The expression of Himself is found in many places of Scripture, with reference both to Christ and to the Holy Ghost, and we must learn the force of the expression, that we мая not fall into the greatest errors; for if one take it separately by itself in the way in which it is obvious to take it, consider how great an absurdity will follow. He said not that He could do some things of Himself and that others He could not, but universally,

4. The Son can do nothing of Himself. I ask then my opponent, Can the Son do nothing of Himself, tell me? If he reply, that He can do nothing, we will say, that He has done of Himself the very greatest of all goods. As Paul cries aloud, saying, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant. Philippians 2:6–7 And again, Christ Himself in another place says, I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again: and, No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. John 10:18 Do you see that He has power over life and death, and that He wrought of Himself so mighty a Dispensation? And why speak I concerning Christ, when even we, than whom nothing can be meaner, do many things of ourselves? Of ourselves we choose vice, of ourselves we go after virtue, and if we do it not of ourselves, and not having power, we shall neither suffer hell if we do wrong, nor enjoy the Kingdom if we do right.

What then means, Can do nothing of Himself? That He can do nothing in opposition to the Father, nothing alien from, nothing strange to Him, which is especially the assertion of One declaring an Equality and entire agreement.

But wherefore said He not, that He does nothing contrary, instead of, He cannot do? It was that from this again He might show the invariableness and exactness of the Equality, for the expression imputes not weakness to Him, but even shows His great power; since in another place Paul says of the Father, That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie Hebrews 6:18: and again, If we deny Him – He abides faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:12–13 And in truth this expression, impossible, is not declaratory of weakness, but power, power unspeakable. For what He says is of this kind, that that Essence admits not such things as these. For just as when we also say, it is impossible for God to do wrong, we do not impute to Him any weakness, but confess in Him an unutterable power; so when He also says, I can of My own Self do nothing John 5:30, His meaning is, that it is impossible, nature admits not, that I should do anything contrary to the Father. And that you мая learn that this is really what is said, let us, going over what follows, see whether Christ agrees with what is said by us, or among you. You say, that the expression does away with His Power and His proper Authority, and shows His might to be but weak; but I say, that this proves His Equality, His unvarying Likeness, (to the Father,) and the fact that all is done as it were by one Will and Power and Might. Let us then enquire of Christ Himself, and see by what He next says whether He interprets these words according to your supposition or according to ours. What then says He?

For whatever things the Father does these also does the Son likewise.

Do you see how He has taken away your assertion by the root, and confirmed what is said by us? Since, if Christ does nothing of Himself, neither will the Father do anything of Himself, if so be that Christ does all things in like manner to Him. If this be not the case, another strange conclusion will follow. For He said not, that whatsoever things He saw the Father do, He did, but, except He see the Father doing anything, He does it not; extending His words to all time; now He will, according to you, be continually learning the same things. Do you see how exalted is the idea, and that the very humility of the expression compels even the most shameless and unwilling to avoid groveling thoughts, and such as are unsuited to His dignity? For who so wretched and miserable as to assert, that the Son learns day by day what He must do? And how can that be true, You are the same, and Your years shall not fail? Psalm 102:27, or that other, All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made John 1:3; if the Father does certain things, and the Son sees and imitates Him? Do you see that from what was asserted above, and from what was said afterwards, proof is given of His independent Power? And if He brings forward some expressions in lowly manner, marvel not, for since they persecuted Him when they had heard His exalted sayings, and deemed Him to be an enemy of God, sinking a little in expression alone, He again leads His discourse up to the sublimer doctrines, then in turn to the lower, varying His teaching that it might be easy of acceptance even to the indisposed. Observe, after saying, My Father works, and I work; and after declaring Himself equal with God, He adds, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. Then again in a higher strain, Whatever things the Father does, these also does the Son likewise. Then in a lower,

John 5:20

The Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these.

Do you see how great is the humility of this? And with reason; for what I said before, what I shall not cease to say, I will now repeat, that when He utters anything low or humbly, He puts it in excess, that the very poverty of the expression мая persuade even the indisposed to receive the notions with pious understanding. Since, if it be not so, see how absurd a thing is asserted, making the trial from the words themselves. For when He says, And shall show Him greater works than these, He will be found not to have yet learned many things, which cannot be said even of the Apostles; for they when they had once received the grace of the Spirit, in a moment both knew and were able to do all things which it was needful that they should know and have power to do, while Christ will be found to have not yet learned many things which He needed to know. And what can be more absurd than this?

What then is His meaning? It was because He had strengthened the paralytic, and was about to raise the dead, that He thus spoke, all but saying, Wonder ye that I have strengthened the paralyzed? You shall see greater things than these. But He spoke not thus, but proceeded somehow in a humbler strain, in order that He might soothe their madness. And that you мая learn that shall show is not used absolutely, listen again to what follows.

John 5:21

For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will.

Yet can do nothing of Himself is opposed to whom He will: since if He quickens whom He will, He can do something of Himself, (for to will implies power,) but if He can do nothing of Himself, then He can not quicken whom He will. For the expression, as the Father raises up, shows unvarying resemblance in Power, and whom He will, Equality of Authority. Do you see therefore that cannot do anything of Himself is the expression of One not taking away His (own) authority, but declaring the unvarying resemblance of His Power and Will (to those of the Father)? In this sense also understand the words, shall show to Him; for in another place He says, I will raise him up at the last Day. John 6:40 And again, to show that He does it not by receiving an inward power from above, He says, I am the Resurrection and the Life. John 11:25 Then that you мая not assert that He raises what dead He will and quickens them, but that He does not other things in such manner, He anticipates and prevents every objection of the kind by saying, Whatever things He does, these also does the Son likewise, thus declaring that He does all things which the Father does, and as the Father does them; whether you speak of the raising of the dead, or the fashioning of bodies, or the remission of sins, or any other matter whatever, He works in like manner to Him who begot Him.

5. But men careless of their salvation give heed to none of these things; so great an evil is it to be in love with precedence. This has been the mother of heresies, this has confirmed the impiety of the heathen. For God desired that His invisible things should be understood by the creation of this world Romans 1:20, but they having left these and refused to come by this mode of teaching, cut out for themselves another way, and so were cast out from the true. And the Jews believed not because they received honor from one another, and sought not the honor which is from God. But let us, beloved, avoid this disease exceedingly and with all earnestness; for though we have ten thousand good qualities, this plague of vainglory is sufficient to bring them all to nought. John 5:44 If therefore we desire praise, let us seek the praise which is from God, for the praise of men of whatever kind it be, as soon as it has appeared has perished, or if it perish not, brings to us no profit, and often proceeds from a corrupt judgment. And what is there to be admired in the honor which is from men? Which young dancers enjoy, and abandoned women, and covetous and rapacious men? But he who is approved of God, is approved not with these, but with those holy men the Prophets and Apostles, who have shown forth an angelic life. If we feel any desire to lead multitudes about with us or be looked at by them, let us consider the matter apart by itself, and we shall find that it is utterly worthless. In fine, if you are fond of crowds, draw to yourself the host of angels, and become terrible to the devils, then shall you care nothing for mortal things, but shall tread all that is splendid underfoot as mire and clay; and shall clearly see that nothing so fits a soul for shame as the passion for glory; for it cannot, it cannot be, that the man who desires this should live the crucified life, as on the other hand it is not possible that the man who has trodden this underfoot should not tread down most other passions; for he who masters this will get the better of envy and covetousness, and all the grievous maladies. And how, says some one, shall we get the better of it? If we look to the other glory which is from heaven, and from which this kind strives to cast us out. For that heavenly glory both makes us honored here, and passes with us into the life which is to come, and delivers us from all fleshly slavery which we now most miserably serve, giving up ourselves entirely to earth and the things of earth. For if you go into the forum, if you enter into a house, into the streets, into the soldiers' quarters, into inns, taverns, ships, islands, palaces, courts of justice, council chambers, you shall everywhere find anxiety for things present and belonging to this life, and each man laboring for these things, whether gone or coming, traveling or staying at home, voyaging, tilling lands, in the fields, in the cities, in a word, all. What hope then of salvation have we, when inhabiting God's earth we care not for the things of God, when bidden to be aliens from earthly things we are aliens from heaven and citizens of earth? What can be worse than this insensibility, when hearing each day of the Judgment and of the Kingdom, we imitate the men in the days of Noah, and those of Sodom, waiting to learn all by actual experience? Yet for this purpose were all those things written, that if any one believe not that which is to come, he мая, from what has already been, get certain proof of what shall be. Considering therefore these things, both the past and the future, let us at least take breath a little from this hard slavery, and make some account of our souls also, that we мая obtain both present and future blessings; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 39 on the Gospel of John

John 5:23–24

For My Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son; that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.

1. Beloved, we need great diligence in all things, for we shall render account of and undergo a strict enquiry both of words and works. Our interests stop not with what now is, but a certain other condition of life shall receive us after this, and we shall be brought before a fearful tribunal. For we must appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ, that every one мая receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad. 2Corinthians 5:10 Let us ever bear in mind this tribunal, that we мая thus be enabled at all times to continue in virtue; for as he who has cast out from his soul that day, rushes like a horse that has burst his bridle to precipices, (for his ways are always defiled Psalm 10:5) and then assigning the reason the Psalmist has added, He puts Your judgments far away out of his sight;) so he that always retains this fear will walk soberly. Remember, says one, your last things, and you shall never do amiss. Sirach 7:40 For He who now has remitted our sins, will then sin in judgment; He who has died for our sake will then appear again to judge all mankind. Unto them that look for Him, says the Apostle, shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Hebrews 9:28 Wherefore in this place also He says, My Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son; even as they honor the Father.

Shall we then, says some one, also call Him Father? Away with the thought. He uses the word Son that we мая honor Him still remaining a Son, as we honor the Father; but he who calls Him Father does not honor the Son as the Father, but has confounded the whole. Moreover as men are not so much brought to by being benefited as by being punished, on this account He has spoken thus terribly, that even fear мая draw them to honor Him. And when He says all, His meaning is this, that He has power to punish and to honor, and does either as He will. The expression has given, is used that you мая not suppose Him not to have been Begotten, and so think that there are two Fathers. For all that the Father is, this the Son is also, Begotten, and remaining a Son. And that you мая learn that has given is the same as has begotten, hear this very thing declared by another place. As, says Christ, the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. John 5:26 What then? Did he first beget and then give Him life? For he who gives, gives to something which is. Was He then begotten without life? Not even the devils could imagine this, for it is very foolish as well as impious. As then has given life is has begotten Him who is Life, so, has given judgment is has begotten Him who shall be Judge.

That you мая not when you hear that He has the Father for His cause imagine any difference of essence or inferiority of honor, He comes to judge you, by this proving His Equality. For He who has authority to punish and to honor whom He will, has the same Power with the Father. Since, if this be not the case, if having been begotten He afterwards received the honor, how came it that He was afterwards [thus] honored, by what mode of advancement reached He so far as to receive and be appointed to this dignity? Are ye not ashamed thus impudently to apply to that Pure Nature which admits of no addition these carnal and mean imaginations?

Why then, says some one, does Christ so speak? That His words мая be readily received, and to clear the way for sublime sayings; therefore He mixes these with those, and those with these. And observe how (He does it); for it is good to see this from the beginning. He said, My Father works, and I work John 5:17, etc.: declaring by this their Equality and Equal honor. But they sought to kill Him. What does He then? He lowers His form of speech indeed, and puts the same meaning when He says, The Son can do nothing of Himself. Then again He raises His discourse to high matters, saying, Whatever things the Father does, these also does the Son likewise. Then He returns to what is lower, For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that Himself does; and He will show Him greater things than these. Then He rises higher, For as the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will. After this again He joins the high and the low together, For neither does the Father judge any one, but has given all judgment to the Son; then rises again, That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. Do you see how He varies the discourse, weaving it both of high and low words and expressions, in order that it might be acceptable to the men of that time, and that those who should come after might receive no injury, gaining from the higher part a right opinion of the rest? For if this be not the case, if these sayings were not uttered through condescension, wherefore were the high expressions added? Because one who is entitled to utter great words concerning himself, has, when he says anything mean and low, this reasonable excuse, that he does it for some prudential purpose; but if one who ought to speak meanly of himself says anything great, on what account does he utter words which surpass his nature? This is not for any purpose at all, but an act of extreme impiety.

2. We are therefore able to assign a reason for the lowly expressions, a reason sufficient, and becoming to God, namely, His condescension, His teaching us to be moderate, and the salvation which is thus wrought for us. To declare which He said Himself in another place, These things I say that you might be saved. For when He left His own witness, and betook Himself to that of John, (a thing unworthy of His greatness,) He puts the reason of such lowliness of language, and says, These things I say that you might be saved. And ye who assert that He has not the same authority and power with Him who begot Him, what can you say when you hear Him utter words by which He declares His Authority and Power and Glory equal in respect of the Father? Wherefore, if He be as you assert very inferior, does He claim the same honor? Nor does He stop even here, but goes on to say,

He that honors not the Son honors not the Father which has sent Him. Do you see how the honor of the Son is connected with that of the Father? What of that? says one. We see the same in the case of the Apostles; 'He,' says Christ, 'who receives you receives Me.' Matthew 10:40 But in that place He speaks so, because He makes the concerns of His servants His own; here, because the Essence and the Glory is One (with that of the Father). Therefore it is not said of the Apostles that they мая honor, but rightly He says, He that honors not the Son honors not the Father. For where there are two kings, if one is insulted the other is insulted also, and especially when he that is insulted is a son. He is insulted even when one of his soldiers is maltreated; not in the same way as in this case, but as it were in the person of another, while here it is as it were in his own. Wherefore He beforehand said, That they should honor the Son even as they honor the Father, in order that when He should say, He that honors not the Son honors not the Father, you might understand that the honor is the same. For He says not merely, he that honors not the Son, but he that honors Him not so as I have said honors not the Father.

And how, says one, can he that sends and he that is sent be of the same essence? Again, you bring down the argument to carnal things, and perceivest not that all this has been said for no other purpose, but that we might know Him to be The Cause, and not fall into the error of Sabellius, and that in this manner the infirmity of the Jews might be healed, so that He might not be deemed an enemy of God; for they said, This man is not of God John 9:16, This man has not come from God. Now to remove this suspicion, high sayings did not contribute so much as the lowly, and therefore continually and everywhere He said that He had been sent; not that you might suppose that expression to be any lessening of His greatness, but in order to stop their mouths. And for this cause also He constantly betakes Himself to the Father, interposing moreover mention of His own high Parentage. For had He said all in proportion to His dignity, the Jews would not have received His words, since because of a few such expressions, they persecuted and oftentimes stoned Him; and if looking wholly to them He had used none but low expressions, many in after times might have been harmed. Wherefore He mingles and blends His teaching, both by these lowly sayings stopping, as I said, the mouths of the Jews, and also by expressions suited to His dignity banishing from men of sense any mean notion of what He had said, and proving that such a notion did not in any wise apply to Him at all.

The expression having been sent denotes change of place – but God is everywhere present. Wherefore then says He that He was sent? He speaks in an earthly way, declaring His unanimity with the Father. At least He shapes His succeeding words with a desire to effect this.

John 5:24

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears My word, and believes in Him that sent Me, has everlasting life.

Do you see how continually He puts the same thing to cure that feeling of suspicion, both in this place and in what follows by fear and by promises of blessings removing their jealousy of Him, and then again condescending greatly in words? For He said not, he that hears My words, and believes in Me, since they would have certainly deemed that to be pride, and a superfluous pomp of words; because, if after a very long time, and ten thousand miracles, they suspected this when He spoke after this manner, much more would they have done so then. It was on this account that at that later period they said to Him, Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead, how sayest Thou, If a man keep My saying, he shall never taste of death? John 8:52 In order therefore that they мая not here also become furious, see what He says, He that hears My word, and believes in Him that sent Me, has everlasting life. This had no small effect in making His discourse acceptable, when they learned that those who hear Him believe in the Father also; for after having received this with readiness, they would more easily receive the rest. So that the very speaking in a humble manner contributed and led the way to higher things; for after saying, has everlasting life, He adds,

And comes not into judgment, but is passed from death unto life.

By these two things He makes His discourse acceptable; first, because it is the Father who is believed on, and then, because the believer enjoys many blessings. And the comes not into judgment means, is not punished, for He speaks not of death here, but of death eternal, as also of the other life which is deathless.

John 5:25

Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that have heard shall live.

Having said the words, He speaks also of the proof by deeds. For when He had said, As the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will, that the thing мая not seem to be mere boasting and pride, He affords proof by works, saying, The hour comes; then, that you мая not deem that the time is long, He adds, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have heard shall live. Do you see here His absolute and unutterable authority? For as it shall be in the Resurrection, even so, He says, it shall be now. Then too when we hear His voice commanding us we are raised; for, says the Apostle, at the command of God the dead shall arise. And whence, perhaps some one will ask, is it clear that the words are not mere boast? From what He has added, and now is; because had His promises referred only to some future time, His discourse would have been suspected by them, but now He supplies them with a proof: While I, says He, am tarrying among you, this thing shall come to pass; and He would not, had He not possessed the power, have promised for that time, lest through the promise He should incur the greater ridicule. Then too He adds an argument demonstrative of His assertions, saying,

John 5:26

For as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself.

3. Do you see that this declares a perfect likeness save in one point, which is the One being a Father, and the Other a Son? For the expression has given, merely introduces this distinction, but declares that all the rest is equal and exactly alike. Whence it is clear that the Son does all things with as much authority and power as the Father, and that He is not empowered from some other source, for He has life so as the Father has. And on this account, what comes after is straightway added, that from this we мая understand the other also. What is this then? It is,

John 5:27

Hath given Him authority to execute judgment also.

And wherefore does He continually dwell upon resurrection and judgment? For He says, As the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will: and again, the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son: and again, As the Father has life in Himself so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and again, They that have heard [the Voice of the Son of God] shall live; and here again, Hath given to Him authority to execute judgment. Wherefore does He dwell on these things continually? I mean, on judgment, and life, and resurrection? It is because these subjects are able most of any to attract even the obstinate hearer. For the man who is persuaded that he shall both rise again and shall give account to Christ of his transgressions, even though he have seen no other sign, yet having admitted this, will surely run to Him to propitiate his Judge.

John 5:28

That He is the Son of Man, marvel not at this.

Paul of Samosata renders it not so; but how? Hath given Him authority to execute judgment, 'because' He is the Son of Man. Now the passage thus read is inconsequent, for He did not receive judgment because He was man, (since then what hindered all men from being judges,) but because He is the Son of that Ineffable Essence, therefore is He Judge. So we must read, That He is the Son of Man, marvel not at this. For when what He said seemed to the hearers inconsistent, and they deemed Him nothing more than mere man, while His words were greater than suited man, yea, or even angel, and were proper to God only, to solve this objection He adds,

John 5:28–29

Marvel not [that He is the Son of Man, ] for the hour is coming in the which they that are in the tombs shall hear His voice and shall go forth, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

And wherefore said He not, Marvel not that He is the Son of Man, for He is also the Son of God, but rather mentioned the resurrection? He did indeed put this above, by saying, shall hear the Voice of the Son of God. And if here He is silent on the matter, wonder not; for after mentioning a work which was proper to God, He then permits His hearers to collect from it that He was God, and the Son of God. For had this been continually asserted by Himself, it would at that time have offended them, but when proved by the argument of miracles, it rendered His doctrine less burdensome. So they who put together syllogisms, when having laid down their premises they have fairly proved the point in question, frequently do not draw the conclusion themselves, but to render their hearers more fairly disposed, and to make their victory more evident, cause the opponent himself to give the verdict, so that the by-standers мая the rather agree with them when their opponents decide in their favor. When therefore He mentioned the resurrection of Lazarus, He spoke not of the Judgment (for it was not for this that Lazarus arose); but when He spoke generally He also added, that they that have done good shall go forth unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment. Thus also John led on his hearers by speaking of the Judgment, and that he that believes not on the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him John 3:36: so too Himself led on Nicodemus: He that believes in the Son, He said to him, is not judged, but he that believes not is judged already John 3:18; and so here He mentions the Judgment-seat and the punishment which shall follow upon evil deeds. For because He had said above, He that hears My words and believes in Him that sent Me, is not judged, lest any one should imagine that this alone is sufficient for salvation, He adds also the result of man's life, declaring that they which have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment. Since then He had said that all the world should render account to Him, and that all at His Voice should rise again, a thing new and strange and even now disbelieved by many who seem to have believed, not to say by the Jews at that time, hear how He goes to prove it, again condescending to the infirmity of His hearers.

John 5:30

I can of My own self do nothing; as I hear I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will, but the will of Him which sent Me.

Although He had but lately given no trifling proof of the Resurrection by bracing the paralytic; on which account also He had not spoken of the Resurrection before He had done what fell little short of resurrection. And the Judgment He hinted at after He had braced the body, by saying, Behold, you are made whole, sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you; yet still He proclaimed beforehand the resurrection of Lazarus and of the world. And when He had spoken of these two, that of Lazarus which should come to pass almost immediately, and that of the inhabited world which should be long after, He confirms the first by the paralytic and by the nearness of the time, saying, The hour comes and now is; the other by the raising of Lazarus, by what had already come to pass bringing before their sight what had not yet done so. And this we мая observe Him do everywhere, putting (forth) two or three predictions, and always confirming the future by the past.

4. Yet after saying and doing so much, since they still were very weak He is not content, but by other expressions calms their disputatious temper, saying, I can of Myself do nothing; as I hear I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will, but the will of Him which sent Me. For since He appeared to make some assertions strange and varying from those of the Prophets, (for they said that it is God who judges all the earth, that is, the human race; and this truth David everywhere loudly proclaimed, He shall judge the people in righteousness, and, God is a righteous Judge, strong and patient Psalm 96:10, and Psalm 7:11, Septuagint; as did all the Prophets and Moses; but Christ said, The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son: an expression which was sufficient to perplex a Jew who heard it, and to make him in turn suspect Christ of being an enemy of God,) He here greatly condescends in His speech, and as far as their infirmity requires, in order to pluck up by the roots this pernicious opinion, and says, I can of Myself do nothing; that is, nothing strange, or unlike, or what the Father desires not will you see done or hear said by Me. And having before declared that He was the Son of Man, and because they supposed Him to be a man at that time, so also He puts [His expressions] here. As then when He said above, We speak that we have heard, and testify that we have seen; and when John said, What He has seen He testifies, and no man receives His testimony John 3:32; both expressions are used respecting exact knowledge, not concerning hearing and seeing merely; so in this place when He speaks of hearing, He declares nothing else than that it is impossible for Him to desire anything, save what the Father desires. Still He said not so plainly, (for they would not as yet have at once received it on hearing it thus asserted;) and how? In a manner very condescending and befitting a mere man, As I hear I judge. Again He uses these words in this place, not with reference to instruction, (for He said not, as I am taught, but as I hear;) nor as though He needed to listen, (for not only did He not require to be taught, but He needed not even to listen;) but it was to declare the Unanimity and Identity of [His and the Father's] decision, as though He had said, So I judge, as if it were the Father Himself that judged. Then He adds, and I know that My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. What sayest Thou? Have You a will different from that of the Father? Yet in another place He says, As I and Thou are One, (speaking of will and unanimity,) grant to these also that they мая be one in Us John 17:21; not verbally quoted; that is, in faith concerning Us. Do you see that the words which seem most humble are those which conceal a high meaning? For what He implies is of this kind: not that the will of the Father is one, and His own another; but that, as one will in one mind, so is My own will and My Father's.

And marvel not that He has asserted so close a conjunction; for with reference to the Spirit also Paul has used this illustration: What man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. Thus Christ's meaning is no other than this: I have not a will different and apart from that of the Father, but if He desires anything, then I also; if I, then He also. As therefore none could object to the Father judging, so neither мая any to Me, for the sentence of Each is given from the same Mind. And if He utters these words rather as a man, marvel not, seeing that they still deemed Him to be mere man. Therefore in passages like these it is necessary not merely to enquire into the meaning of the words, but also to take into account the suspicion of the hearers, and listen to what is said as being addressed to that suspicion. Otherwise many difficulties will follow. Consider for instance, He says, I seek not My own will: according to this then His will is different (from that of the Father), is imperfect, nay, not merely imperfect, but even unprofitable. For if it be saving, if it agree with that of the Father, why do You not seek it? Mortals might with reason say so because they have many wills contrary to what seems good to the Father, but Thou, wherefore sayest Thou this, who art in all things like the Father? For this none would say is the language even of a man made perfect and crucified. For if Paul so blended himself with the will of God as to say, I live, yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me Galatians 2:20, how says the Lord of all, I seek not My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me, as though that will were different? What then is His meaning? He applies His discourse as if the case were that of a mere man, and suits His language to the suspicion of His hearers. For when He had, by what had gone before, given proof of His sayings, speaking partly as God, partly as a mere man, He again as a man endeavors to establish the same, and says, My judgment is just. And whence is this seen? Because I seek not My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. For as in the case of men, he that is free from selfishness cannot be justly charged with having given an unfair decision, so neither will you now be able to accuse Me. He that desires to establish his own, мая perhaps by many be suspected of corrupting justice with this intent; but he that looks not to his own, what reason can he have for not deciding justly? Apply now this reasoning to My case. Had I said that I was not sent by the Father, had I not referred to Him the glory of what was done, some of you might perhaps have suspected that desiring to gain honor for Myself, I said the thing that is not; but if I impute and refer what is done to another, wherefore and whence can you have cause to suspect My words? Do you see how He confirmed His discourse, and asserted that His judgment was just by an argument which any common man might have used in defending himself? Do you see how what I have often said is clearly visible? What is that? It is that the exceeding humility of the expressions most persuades men of sense not to receive the words off hand and then fall down [into low thoughts], but rather to take pains that they reach to the height of their meaning; this humility too with much ease then raises up those who were once groveling on the ground.

Now bearing all this in mind, let us not, I exhort you, carelessly pass by Christ's words, but enquire closely into them all, everywhere considering the reason of what has been said; and let us not deem that ignorance and simplicity will be sufficient to excuse us, for He has bidden us not merely to be harmless, but wise. Matthew 10:16 Let us therefore practice wisdom with simplicity, both as to doctrines and the right actions of our lives; let us judge ourselves here, that we be not condemned with the world hereafter; let us act towards our fellow-servants as we desire our Master to act towards us: for (we say), Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12 I know that the smitten soul endures not meekly, but if we consider that by so doing we do a kindness not to him who has grieved us but to ourselves, we shall soon let go the venom of our wrath; for he who forgave not the hundred pence to him who had transgressed against him, wronged not his fellow-servant but himself, by rendering himself liable for the ten thousand talents of which he had before received forgiveness. Matthew 18:30–34 When therefore we forgive not others, we forgive not ourselves. And so let us not merely say to God, remember not our offenses; but let each also say to himself, let us not remember the offenses of our fellow-servants done against us. For you first give judgment on your own sins, and God judges after; you propose the law concerning remission and punishment, you declare your decision on these matters, and therefore whether God shall or shall not remember, rests with you. For which cause Paul bids us forgive, if any One has cause of complaint against any Colossians 3:13, and not simply forgive, but so that not even any remnants be left behind. Since Christ not only did not publish our transgressions, but did not put us the transgressors in mind of them, nor say, in such and such things have you offended, but remitted and blotted out the handwriting, not reckoning our offenses, as Paul has also declared. Colossians 2:14 Let us too do this; let us wipe away all [trespasses against us] from our minds; and if any good thing has been done to us by him that has grieved us, let us only reckon that; but if anything grievous and hard to bear, let us cast it forth and blot it out, so that not even a vestige of it remain. And if no good has been done us by him, so much the greater recompense and higher credit will be ours if we forgive. Others by watching, by making the earth their bed, by ten thousand hardships, wipe away their sins, but thou by an easier way, I mean by not remembering wrongs, мая cause all your trespasses to disappear. Why then do you thrust the sword against yourself, as do mad and frantic men, and banishest yourself from the life which is to come, when you ought to use every means to attain unto it? For if this present life be so desirable, what can one say of that other from which pain, and grief, and mourning, have fled away? There it needs not to fear death, nor imagine any end to those good things. Blessed, thrice blessed, yea, and this many times over, are they who enjoy that blessed rest, while they are miserable, thrice miserable, yea, ten thousand times miserable, who have cast themselves forth from that blessedness. And what, says some one, is it that makes us to enjoy that life? Hear the Judge Himself conversing with a certain young man on this matter. When the young man said, What shall I do to inherit eternal life? Matthew 19:16 Christ, after repeating to him the other commandments, ended with the love of his neighbor. Perhaps like that rich man some of my hearers will say, that we also have kept these, for we neither have robbed, nor killed, nor committed adultery; yet assuredly you will not be able to say this, that you have loved your neighbor as you ought to have loved him. For if a man has envied or spoken evil of another, if he has not helped him when injured, or not imparted to him of his substance, then neither has he loved him. Now Christ has commanded not only this, but something besides. What then is this? Sell, he says, that you have, and give to the poor; and come, follow Me Matthew 19:21: terming the imitating Him in our actions following Him. What learn we hence? First, that he who has not all these things cannot attain unto the chief places in that rest. For after the young man had said, All these things have I done, Christ, as though some great thing were wanting to his being perfectly approved, replied, If you will be perfect, sell that you have, and give to the poor: and come, follow Me. First then we мая learn this; secondly, that Christ rebuked the man for his vain boast; for one who lived in such superfluity, and regarded not others living in poverty, how could he love his neighbor? So that neither in this matter did he speak truly. But let us do both the one and the other of these things; let us be eager to empty out our substance, and to purchase heaven. Since if for worldly honor men have often expended their whole possessions, an honor which was to stay here below, and even here not to stay by us long, (for many even much before their deaths have been stripped of their supremacy, and others because of it have often lost their lives, and yet, although aware of this, they expend all for its sake;) if now they do so much for this kind of honor, what can be more wretched than we if for the sake of that honor which abides and which cannot be taken from us we will not give up even a little, nor supply to others those things which in a short time while yet here we shall leave? What madness must it be, when it is in our power voluntarily to give to others, and so to take with us those things of which we shall even against our will be deprived, to refuse to do so? Yet if a man were being led to death, and it were proposed to him to give up all his goods and so go free, we should think a favor was conferred upon him; and shall we, who are being led on the way to the pit, shall we, when it is allowed us to give up half and be free, prefer to be punished, and uselessly to retain what is not ours even to the losing what is so? What excuse shall we have, what claim for pardon, who, when so easy a road has been cut for us unto life, rush down precipices, and travel along an unprofitable path, depriving ourselves of all things both here and hereafter, when we might enjoy both in security? If then we did not so before, let us at least stop now; and coming to ourselves, let us rightly dispose of things present, that we мая easily receive those which are to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily 40 on the Gospel of John

John 5:31–32

If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true; there is another that bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which he witnesses of Me is true.

1. If any one unpracticed in the art undertake to work a mine, he will get no gold, but confounding all aimlessly and together, will undergo a labor unprofitable and pernicious: so also they who understand not the method of Holy Scripture, nor search out its peculiarities and laws, but go over all its points carelessly and in one manner, will mix the gold with earth, and never discover the treasure which is laid up in it. I say this now because the passage before us contains much gold, not indeed manifest to view, but covered over with much obscurity, and therefore by digging and purifying we must arrive at the legitimate sense. For who would not at once be troubled at hearing Christ say, If I testify of Myself, My witness is not true; inasmuch as He often appears to have testified of Himself? For instance, conversing with the Samaritan woman He said, I Am that speak unto you: and in like manner to the blind man, It is He that talks with you John 9:37; and rebuking the Jews, You say, you blaspheme, because I said I am the Son of God. John 10:36 And in many other places besides He does this. If now all these assertions be false, what hope of salvation shall we have? And where shall we find truth when Truth Itself declares, My witness is not true? Nor does this appear to be the only contradiction; there is another not less than this. He says farther on, Though I bear witness of Myself, yet My witness is true John 8:14; which then, tell me, am I to receive, and which deem a falsehood? If we take them out thus [from the context] simply as they are said, without carefully considering the person to whom nor the cause for which they are said, nor any other like circumstances, they will both be falsehoods. For if His witness be not true, then this assertion is not true either, not merely the second, but the first also. What then is the meaning? We need great watchfulness, or rather the grace of God, that we rest not in the mere words; for thus the heretics err, because they enquire not into the object of the speaker nor the disposition of the hearers. If we add not these and other points besides, as times and places and the opinions of the listeners, many absurd consequences will follow.

What then is the meaning? The Jews were about to object to Him, If you bear witness concerning yourself, your witness is not true John 8:13: therefore He spoke these words in anticipation; as though He had said, You will surely say to Me, we believe you not; for no one that witnesses of himself is readily held trustworthy among men. So that the is not true must not be read absolutely, but with reference to their suspicions, as though He had said, to you it is not true; and so He uttered the words not looking to His own dignity, but to their secret thoughts. When He says, My witness is not true, He rebukes their opinion of Him, and the objection about to be urged by them against Him; but when He says, Though I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true John 8:14, He declares the very nature of the thing itself, namely, that as God they ought to deem Him trustworthy even when speaking of Himself. For since He had spoken of the resurrection of the dead, and of the judgment, and that he that believes in Him is not judged, but comes unto life, and that He shall sit to require account of all men, and that He has the same Authority and Power with the Father; and since He was about again otherwise to prove these things, He necessarily put their objection first. I told you, He says, that 'as the Father raises the dead and quickens them, so the Son quickens whom He will'; I told you that 'the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son'; I told you that men must 'honor the Son as they honor the Father'; I told you that 'he that honors not the Son honors not the Father'; I told you that 'he that hears My words and believes them shall not see death, but has passed from death unto life' John 5:24; not exactly quoted; that My voice shall raise the dead, some now, some hereafter; that I shall demand account from all men of their transgressions, that I shall judge righteously, and recompense those who have walked uprightly. Now since all these were assertions, since the things asserted were important, and since no clear proof of them had as yet been afforded to the Jews but one rather indistinct, He puts their objection first when He is about to proceed to establish His assertions, speaking somewhat in this way if not in these very words: Perhaps you will say, you assert all this, but you are not a credible witness, since you testify of yourself. First then checking their disputatious spirit by setting forth what they would say, and showing that He knew the secrets of their hearts, and giving this first proof of His power, after stating the objection He supplies other proofs clear and indisputable, producing three witnesses to what He said, namely, the works wrought by Him, the witness of the Father, and the preaching of John. And He puts first the less important witness of John. For after saying, There is another that bears witness of Me, and I know that his witness is true, He adds,

John 5:33

You sent unto John, and he bore witness unto the truth.

Yet if Your witness be not true, how sayest Thou, I know that the testimony of John is true, and that he has borne witness to the truth? And do you see (O man) how clear it hence is, that the expression, My witness is not true, was addressed to their secret thoughts?

2. What then, says some one, if John bore witness partially. That the Jews might not assert this, see how He removes this suspicion. For He said not, John testified of Me, but, You first sent to John, and you would not have sent had ye not deemed him trustworthy. Nay, what is more, they had sent not to ask him about Christ, but about himself, and the man whom they deemed trustworthy in what related to himself they would much more deem so in what related to another. For it is, so to speak, the nature of us all not to give so much credit to those who speak of themselves as to those who speak of others; yet him they deemed so trustworthy as not to require even concerning himself any other testimony. For they who were sent said not, What do you say concerning Christ? but, Who are you? What do you say of yourself? So great admiration felt they for the man. Now to all this Christ made allusion by saying, You sent unto John. And on this account the Evangelist has not merely related that they sent, but is exact as to the persons sent that they were Priests and of the Pharisees, not common or abject persons, nor such as might be corrupted or cheated, but men able to understand exactly what he said.

John 5:34

But I receive not testimony from man.

Why then have You brought forward that of John? His testimony was not the testimony of man, for, says he, He that sent me to baptize with water, He said to me. John 1:33 So that John's testimony was the testimony of God; for having learned from Him he said what he did. But that none should ask, Whence is it clear that he learned from God? and stop at this, He abundantly silences them by still addressing Himself to their thoughts. For neither was it likely that many would know these things; they had hitherto given heed unto John as to one who spoke of himself, and therefore Christ says, I receive not testimony from man. And that the Jews might not ask, And if You were not about to receive the testimony of man, and by it to strengthen Yourself, why have You brought forward this man's testimony? see how He corrects this contradiction by what He adds. For after saying, I receive not testimony from man, He has added,

But these things I say, that you мая be saved.

What He says is of this kind; I, being God, needed not the witness of John which is man's witness, yet because ye gave more heed to him, believe him more trustworthy than any, ran to him as to a prophet, (for all the city was poured forth to Jordan,) and have not believed on Me, even when working miracles, therefore I remind you of that witness of his.

John 5:35

He was a burning and a shining light, and you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

That they мая not reply, What if he did speak and we received him not, He shows that they did receive John's sayings: since they sent not common men, but priests and Pharisees and were willing to rejoice; so much did they admire the man, and at the same time had nothing to say against his words. But the for a season, is the expression of one noting their levity, and the fact that they soon started away from him.

John 5:36

But I have greater witness than that of John.

For had ye been willing to admit faith according to the (natural) consequence of the facts, I would have brought you over by My works more than he by his words. But since you will not, I bring you to John, not as needing his testimony, but because I do all 'that you мая be saved.' For I have greater witness than that of John, namely, that from My works; yet I do not merely consider how I мая be made acceptable to you by credible evidence, but how by that (of persons) known to and admired by you. Then glancing at them and saying that they rejoiced for a season in his (John's) light, He declared that their zeal was but temporary and uncertain.

He called John a torch, signifying that he had not light of himself, but by the grace of the Spirit; but the circumstance which caused the absolute distinction between Himself and John, namely, that He was the Sun of righteousness, this He put not yet; but merely hinting as yet at this He touched them sharply, by showing that from the same disposition which led them to despise John, neither could they believe in Christ. Since it was but for a season that they admired even the man whom they did admire, and who, had they not acted thus, would soon have led them by the hand to Jesus. Having then proved them altogether unworthy of forgiveness, He went on to say, I have greater witness than that of John. What is that? It is that from His works.

For the works, He says, which the Father has given Me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of Me that the Father sent Me.

By this He reminded them of the paralytic restored, and of many other things. The words perhaps one of them might have asserted were mere boast, and said by reason of John's friendship towards Him, (though indeed it was not in their power to say even this of John, a man equal to the exact practice of wisdom, and on this account admired by them,) but the works could not even among the maddest of them admit this suspicion; therefore He added this second testimony, saying, The works which the Father has given Me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of Me that the Father sent Me.

3. In this place He also meets the accusation respecting the violation of the Sabbath. For since those persons argued, How can he be from God, seeing that he keeps not the Sabbath? John 9:16, therefore He says, Which My Father has given unto Me. Yet in truth, He acted with absolute power, but in order most abundantly to show that He does nothing contrary to the Father, therefore He has put the expression of much inferiority. Since why did He not say, The works which the Father has given Me testify that I am equal to the Father? For both of these truths were to be earned from the works, that He did nothing contrary, and that He was equal to Him who begot Him; a point which He is establishing elsewhere, where He says, If you believe not Me, believe the works: that you мая know and believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me. John 10:38 In both respects, therefore, the works bore witness to Him, that He was equal to the Father, and that He did nothing contrary to Him. Why then said He not so, instead of leaving out the greater and putting forward this? Because to establish this was His first object. For although it was a far less thing to have it believed that He came from God, than to have it believed that God was equal with Him, (for that belonged to the Prophets also, but this never,) still He takes much pains as to the lesser point, as knowing that, this admitted, the other would afterwards be easily received. So that making no mention of the more important portion of the testimony, He puts its lesser office, that by this they мая receive the other also. Having effected this, He adds,

John 5:37

And the Father Himself, which has sent Me, has borne witness of Me.

Where did He bear witness of Him? In Jordan: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased Matthew 3:16; hear Him. Yet even this needed proof. The testimony of John then was clear, for they themselves had sent to him, and could not deny it. The testimony from miracles was in like manner clear, for they had seen them wrought, and had heard from him who was healed, and had believed; whence also they drew their accusation. It therefore remained to give proof to the testimony of the Father. Next in order to effect this, He added,

You have neither heard His voice at any time:

How then says Moses, The Lord spoke, and Moses answered? Exodus 19:19; and David, He had heard a tongue which he knew not Psalm 81:5; and Moses again, Is there any such people which has 'heard the voice of God?'? Deuteronomy 4:33

Nor seen His shape.

Yet Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, are said to have seen Him, and many others. What then is that which Christ says now? He guides them by degrees to a philosophical doctrine, showing that with God is neither voice nor shape, but that He is higher than such forms or sounds like these. For as when He says, You have not heard His voice, He does not mean that God does indeed utter a voice, but one which cannot be heard; so when He says, Nor seen His shape, He does not mean that God has a shape though one invisible, but that neither of these things belongs to God. And in order that they might not say, You are a boaster, God spoke to Moses only; (this at least they did say, We know that God spoke with Moses: as for this fellow, we know not whence He is John 9:29) on this account He spoke as He did, to show that there is neither voice nor shape with God. But why, He says, name I these things? Not only have ye 'neither heard His voice nor seen His shape,' but it is not even in your power to assert that of which you most boast and of which you are all most fully assured, namely, that you have received and keep His commandments. Wherefore He adds,

John 5:38

And you have not His word abiding in you.

That is, the ordinances, the commandments, the Law, and the Prophets. For even if God ordained these, still they are not with you, since you believe not on Me. Because, if the Scriptures everywhere say that it is necessary to give heed to Me, and yet ye believe not, it is quite clear that His word is removed from you. Wherefore again He adds,

For whom He has sent, Him ye believe not.

Then that they мая not argue, How, if we have not heard His voice, has He testified unto you? He says,

John 5:39

Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me.

Since by these the Father gave His testimony. He gave it indeed by Jordan also and in the mount, but Christ brings not forward those voices; perhaps by doing so He would have been disbelieved; for one of them, that in the mount, they did not hear, and the other they heard indeed, but heeded not. For this reason He referrs them to the Scriptures, showing that from them comes the Father's testimony, having first removed the old grounds on which they used to boast, either as having seen God or as having heard His voice. For as it was likely that they would disbelieve His voice, and picture to themselves what took place on Sinai, after first correcting their suspicions on these points, and showing that what had been done was a condescension, He then referrs them to the testimony of the Scriptures.

4. And from these too let us also, when we war against heretics, arm and fortify ourselves. For all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God мая be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work 2 Timothy 3:16–17; not that he мая have some and not others, for such a man is not perfect. For tell me what profit is it, if a man pray continually, but give not liberal alms? Or if he give liberal alms, but be covetous or violent? Or if he be not covetous nor violent, but (is liberal) to make a show before men, and to gain the praise of the beholders? Or if he give alms with exactness and according to God's pleasure, yet be lifted up by this very thing, and be highminded? Or if he be humble and constant in fasting, but covetous, greedy of gain, and nailed to earth, and one who introduces into his soul the mother of mischief? For the love of money is the root of all evils. Let us then shudder at the action, let us flee the sin; this has made the world a waste, this has brought all things into confusion, this seduces us from the most blessed service of Christ. It is not possible, He says, to serve God and mammon. For mammon gives commands contradictory to those of Christ. The one says, Give to them that need; the other, Plunder the goods of the needy. Christ says, Forgive them that wrong you; the other, Prepare snares against those who do you no wrong. Christ says, Be merciful and kind; mammon says, Be savage and cruel, and count the tears of the poor as nothing; to the intent that he мая render the Judge stern to us in that day. For then all our actions shall come before our eyes, and those who have been injured and stripped by us, shutting us out from all excuse. Since if Lazarus, who received no wrong from Dives, but only did not enjoy any of his good things, stood forth at that time as a bitter accuser and allowed him not to obtain any pardon, what excuse, tell me, shall they have, who, besides giving no alms of their own substance, seize that of others, and overthrow orphans' houses? If they who have not fed Christ when He hungered have drawn such fire upon their heads, what consolation shall they enjoy who plunder what belongs not to them at all, who weave ten thousand law-suits, who unjustly grasp the property of all men? Let us then cast out this desire; and we shall cast it out if we think of those before us who did wrongfully, who were covetous and are gone. Do not others enjoy their wealth and labors while they lie in punishment, and vengeance, and intolerable woes? And how can this be anything but extreme folly, to weary and vex ourselves, that living we мая strain ourselves with labor, and on our departure hence undergo intolerable punishments and vengeances, when we might have enjoyed ourselves here, (for nothing so much causes pleasure as the consciousness of almsgiving, ) and departing to that place might have been delivered from all our woes, and obtained ten thousand blessings? For as wickedness is wont to punish those who go after it, even before (they arrive at) the pit, so also virtue, even before the (gift of) the Kingdom, provides delights for those who here practice it, making them to live in company with good hopes and continual pleasure. Therefore that we мая obtain this, both here and in the life to come, let us hold fast to good works, so shall we gain the future crown; to which мая we all reach through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homilies 40 –88

Homily 41 on the Gospel of John

John 5:39–40

Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think you have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me that you might have [eternal ] life.

1. Beloved, let us make great account of spiritual things, and not think that it is sufficient for us to salvation to pursue them anyhow. For if in things of this life a man can gain no great profit if he conduct them in an indifferent and chance way, much more will this be the case in spiritual things, since these require yet greater attention. Wherefore Christ when He referred the Jews to the Scriptures, sent them not to a mere reading, but a careful and considerate search; for He said not, Read the Scriptures, but, Search the Scriptures. Since the sayings relating to Him required great attention, (for they had been concealed from the beginning for the advantage of the men of that time,) He bids them now dig down with care that they might be able to discover what lay in the depth below. These sayings were not on the surface, nor were they cast forth to open view, but lay like some treasure hidden very deep. Now he that searches for hidden things, except he seek them with care and toil, will never find the object of his search. For which cause He said, Search the Scriptures, because in them ye think you have eternal life. He said not, You have, but ye think, showing that they gained from them nothing great or high, expecting as they did to be saved by the mere reading, without the addition of faith. What He says therefore is of this kind: Do ye not admire the Scriptures, do ye not think that they are the causes of all life? By these I confirm My claims now, for they are they which testify of Me, yet ye will not come to Me that you мая have eternal life. It was thus with good reason that He said, ye think, because they would not obey, but merely prided themselves on the bare reading. Then lest owing to His very tender care He should incur among them the suspicion of vainglory, and because He desired to be believed by them, should be deemed to be seeking His own; (for He reminded them of the words of John, and of the witness of God, and of His own works, and said all He could to draw them to Him, and promised them life; ) since, I say, it was likely that many would suspect that He spoke these things from a desire of glory, hear what He says:

John 5:41

I receive not honor from men.

That is, I need it not: My nature, He says, is not of such a kind as to need the honor which is from men, for if the sun can receive no addition from the light of a candle, much farther am I from needing the honor which is from men. Why then, asks some one, do you say these things, if you need it not? That ye мая be saved. This He positively asserted above, and the same He implied here also, by saying, that you might have life. Moreover, He puts another reason:

John 5:42

But I know you that you have not the love of God in you.

For when under pretense of loving God they persecuted Him because He made Himself equal with God, and He knew that they would not believe Him, lest any one should ask, why do you speak these words? I speak them, He says, to convict you of this, that it is not for the love of God that you persecute Me, if it be so that He testifies to Me both by works and by the Scriptures. For as before this when you deemed Me an enemy of God ye drove Me away, so now, since I have declared these things, you ought to have hastened to Me, if you had really loved. God. But ye love Him not. And therefore have I spoken these words, to show that you are possessed with excessive pride, that you are vainly boasting and shading over your own enviousness. And the same He proves not by these things only, but by those that should come to pass.

John 5:43

I have come in My Father's name, and you receive Me not; if another shall comei in his own name, him will you receive.

2. Do you see that He everywhere declares that He has been sent, that judgment has been committed to Him by the Father, that He can do nothing of Himself, in order that He мая cut off all excuse for their unfairness? But who is it that He here says shall come in his own name? He alludes here to Antichrist, and puts an incontrovertible proof of their unfairness. For if as loving God ye persecute Me, much more ought this to have taken place in the case of Antichrist. For he will neither say that he is sent by the Father, nor that he comes according to his will, but in everything contrariwise, seizing like a tyrant what belongs not to him, and asserting that he is the very God over all, as Paul says, 'Exalting himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, showing himself that he is God.' 2 Thessalonians 2:4 This is to 'come in his own name.' I do not so, but have come in the Name of My Father. That they received not One who said that He was sent of God, was a sufficient proof that they loved not God; but now from the contrary of this fact, from their being about to receive Antichrist, He shows their shamelessness. For when they received not One who asserts that He was sent by God, and are about to worship one who knows Him not, and who says that he is God over all, it is clear that their persecution proceeded from malice and from hating God. On this account He puts two reasons for His words; and first the kinder one, That ye мая be saved; and, That ye мая have life: and when they would have mocked at Him, He puts the other which was more striking, showing that even although His hearers should not believe, yet that God was wont always to do His own works. Now Paul speaking concerning Antichrist said prophetically, that God shall send them strong delusion – that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:11–12 Christ said not, He shall come; but, if He come, from tenderness for His hearers; and because all their obstinacy was not yet complete. He was silent as to the reason of His coming; but Paul, for those who can understand, has particularly alluded to it. For it is he who takes away all excuse from them.

Christ then puts also the cause of their unbelief, saying . . .

John 5:44

How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?

Hence again He shows that they looked not to the things of God, but that under this pretense they desired to gratify private feeling, and were so far from doing this on account of His glory, that they preferred honor from men to that which comes from Him. How then were they likely to entertain such hostility towards Him for a kind of honor which they so despised, as to prefer to it the honor which comes from men?

Having told them that they had not the love of God, and having proved it by what was doing in His case, and by what should be in the case of Antichrist, and having demonstrated that they were deprived of all excuse, He next brings Moses to be their accuser, going on to say,

John 5:45–47

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom you trust. For had ye believed Moses, you would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe My words?

What He says is of this kind: It is Moses who has been insulted more than I by your conduct towards Me, for you have disbelieved him rather than Me. See how in every way He has cast them out from all excuse. You said that you loved God when you persecuted Me; I have shown that you did so from hatred of Him: ye say that I break the Sabbath and annul the Law; I have rid Me of this slander also: ye maintain that you believe in Moses by what ye dare to do against Me; I on the contrary show that this is most to disbelieve in Moses; for so far am I from opposing the Law, that he who shall accuse you is none other than the man who gave you the Law. As then He said of the Scriptures, in which ye think you have eternal life, so of Moses also He says, in whom you trust; everywhere conquering them by their own weapons.

And whence, says some one, is it clear that Moses will accuse us, and that you are not a boaster? What have you to do with Moses? You have broken the Sabbath which he ordained that we should keep; how then should he accuse us? And how does it appear that we shall believe in another who comes in his own name? All these assertions you make without evidence. Now in truth all these points are proved above. For (Christ would reply) since it is acknowledged that I came from God, both by the works, by the voice of John, and by the testimony of the Father, it is evident that Moses will accuse the Jews. For what says he? If a man come doing miracles and leading you to God, and truly foretelling things future, you must hearken unto him with all readiness. Now Christ had done all this. He wrought miracles in very truth, He drew all men to God, and (so that He ) caused accomplishment to follow His predictions.

But whence does it appear that they will believe another? From their hating Christ, since they who turn aside from Him who comes according to the will of God will, it is quite plain, receive the enemy of God. And marvel not if He now puts forward Moses, although He said, I receive not witness from man, for He referrs them not to Moses, but to the Scriptures of God. However, since the Scriptures terrified them less, He brings round His discourse to the very person (of Moses), setting over against them their Lawgiver as their accuser, thus rendering the terror more impressive; and each of their assertions He refutes. Observe: they said that they persecuted Him through love for God, He shows that they did so through hating God; they said that they held fast to Moses, He shows that they acted thus because they believed not Moses. For had they been zealous for the law, they ought to have received Him who fulfilled it; if they loved God they ought to have believed One who drew them to Him, if they believed Moses they ought to have done homage to One of whom Moses prophesied. But (says Christ) if Moses is disbelieved before My coming, it is nothing unlikely that I, who am heralded by him, should be driven away by you. As then He had shown from their conduct towards Himself that they who admired John (really) despised him, so now He shows that they who thought that they believed Moses, believed him not, and turns back on their own head all that they thought to put forward in their own behalf. So far, He says, am I from drawing you away from the Law, that I call your Lawgiver himself to be your accuser.

That the Scriptures testified of Him He declared, but where they testify He added not; desiring to inspire them with greater awe, and to prompt them to search, and to reduce them to the necessity of questioning. For had He told them readily and without their questioning, they would have rejected the testimony; but now, if they gave any heed to His words, they needed first of all to ask, and learn from Him what that testimony was. On this account He deals the more largely in assertions and threats, not in proofs only, that even so He мая bring them over by fear of what He says; but they even so were silent. Such a thing is wickedness; whatsoever a man say or do it is not stirred to move, but remains keeping its peculiar venom.

Wherefore we must cast out all wickedness from our souls, and never more contrive any deceit; for, says one, To the perverse God sends crooked paths Proverbs 21:8, Septuagint; and, The holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding. Wisdom 1:5 For nothing makes men so foolish as wickedness; since when a man is treacherous, unfair, ungrateful, (these are different forms of wickedness,) when without having been wronged he grieves another, when he weaves deceits, how shall he not exhibit an example of excessive folly? Again, nothing makes men so wise as virtue; it renders them thankful and fair-minded, merciful, mild, gentle, and candid; it is wont to be the mother of all other blessings. And what is more understanding than one so disposed? For virtue is the very spring and root of prudence, just as all wickedness has its beginning in folly. For, the insolent man and the angry become the prey of their respective passions from lack of wisdom; on which account the prophet said, There is no soundness in my flesh: my wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness Psalm 38:3–4: showing that all sin has its beginning in folly: and so the virtuous man who has the fear of God is more understanding than any; wherefore a wise man has said, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 If then to fear God is to have wisdom, and the wicked man has not that fear, he is deprived of that which is wisdom indeed – and deprived of that which is wisdom indeed, he is more foolish than any. And yet many admire the wicked as being able to do injustice and harm, not knowing that they ought to deem them wretched above all men, who thinking to injure others thrust the sword against themselves – an act of extremest folly, that a man should strike himself and not even know that he does so, but should think that he is injuring another while he is killing himself. Wherefore Paul, knowing that we slay ourselves when we smite others, says, Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 1Corinthians 6:7 For the not suffering wrong consists in doing none, as also the not being ill-used in not using others ill; though this assertion мая seem a riddle to the many, and to those who will not learn true wisdom. Knowing this, let us not call wretched or lament for those who suffer injury or insult, but for such who inflict these things; these are they who have been most injured, who have made God to be at war with them, and have opened the mouths of ten thousand accusers, who are getting an evil reputation in the present life, and drawing down on themselves severe punishment in the life to come. While those who have been wronged by them, and have nobly borne it all, have God favorable to them, and all to condone with, and praise, and entertain them. Such as these in the present life, shall enjoy an exceeding good report, as affording the strongest example of true wisdom, and in the life to come shall share the good things everlasting; to which мая we all attain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 42 on the Gospel of John

John 6:1–4

After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, into the parts of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on them that were diseased. And Jesus departed into a mountain, and there sat with His disciples. And the Passover of the Jews was near.

1. Beloved, let us not contend with violent men, but learn when the doing so brings no hurt to our virtue to give place to their evil counsels; for so all their hardihood is checked. As darts when they fall upon a firm, hard, and resisting substance, rebound with great violence on those who throw them, but when the violence of the cast has nothing to oppose it, it soon becomes weaker and ceases, so is it with insolent men; when we contend with them they become the fiercer, but when we yield and give ground, we easily abate all their madness. Wherefore the Lord when He knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, went into Galilee, to quench their envy, and to soften by His retirement the wrath which was likely to be engendered by these reports. And when He departed for the second time into Galilee, He comes not to the same places as before; for He went not to Cana, but to the other side of the sea, and great multitudes followed Him, beholding the miracles which He did. What miracles? Why does he not mention them specifically? Because this Evangelist most of all was desirous of employing the greater part of his book on the discourses and sermons [of Christ]. Observe, for instance, how for a whole year, or rather how even now at the feast of the Passover, he has given us no more information on the head of miracles, than merely that He healed the paralytic and the nobleman's son. Because he was not anxious to enumerate them all, (that would have been impossible,) but of many and great to record a few.

Ver. 2 . A great multitude followed Him beholding the miracles that He did. What is here told marks not a very wise state of mind; for when they had enjoyed such teaching, they still were more attracted by the miracles, which was a sign of the grosser state. For miracles, It says, are not for believers, but for unbelievers. The people described by Matthew acted not thus, but how? They all, he says were astonished at His doctrine, because He taught as one having authority. Matthew 7:28–29

And why does He occupy the mountain now, and sit there with His disciples? Because of the miracle which was about to take place. And that the disciples alone went up with Him, was a charge against the multitude which followed Him not. Yet not for this only did He go up into the mountain, but to teach us ever to rest at intervals from the tumults and confusion of common life. For solitude is a thing meet for the study of wisdom. And often does He go up alone into a mountain, and spend the night there, and pray, to teach us that the man who will come most near to God must be free from all disturbance, and must seek times and places clear of confusion.

John 6:4

And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.

How then, says some one, does He not go up unto the feast, but, when all are pressing to Jerusalem, goes Himself into Galilee, and not Himself alone, but takes His disciples with Him, and proceeds thence to Capernaum? Because henceforth He was quietly annulling the Law, taking occasion from the wickedness of. the Jews.

John 6:5

And as He lifted up His eyes, He beheld a great company.

This shows that He sat not at any time idly with the disciples, but perhaps carefully conversing with them, and making them attend and turn towards Him, a thing which peculiarly marks His tender care, and the humility and condescension of His demeanor towards them. For they sat with Him, perhaps looking at one another; then having lifted up His eyes, He beheld the multitudes coming unto Him. Now the other Evangelists say, that the disciples came and asked and besought Him that He would not send them away fasting, while St. John says, that the question was put to Philip by Christ. Both occurrences seem to me to be truly reported, but not to have taken place at the same time, the former account being prior to the other, so that the two are entirely different.

Wherefore then does He ask Philip? He knew which of His disciples needed most instruction; for this is he who afterwards said, Show us the Father, and it suffices us John 14:8, and on this account Jesus was beforehand bringing him into a proper state. For had the miracle simply been done, the marvel would not have seemed so great, but now He beforehand constrains him to confess the existing want, that knowing the state of matters he might be the more exactly acquainted with the magnitude of the miracle about to take place. Wherefore He says . . .

John 6:5

Whence shall we have so many loaves, that these мая eat?

So in the Old [Testament] He spoke to Moses, for He wrought not the sign until He had asked him, What is that in your hand? Because things coming to pass unexpectedly and all at once, are wont to throw us into forgetfulness of things previous, therefore He first involved him in a confession of present circumstances, that when the astonishment should have come upon him, he might be unable afterwards to drive away the remembrance of what he had confessed, and thus might learn by comparison the greatness of the miracle, which in fact takes place in this instance; for Philip being asked, replied,

John 6:7

Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them мая take a little. And this He said to prove him: for He Himself knew what He would do.

2. What means, to prove him? Did not He know what would be said by him? We cannot assert that. What then is the meaning of the expression? We мая discover it from the Old [Testament]. For there too it is said, And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Take your beloved son whom you love Genesis 22:1–2; yet it does not appear in that place either, that when He says this He waited to see the end of the trial, whether Abraham would obey or not, (how could He, who knows all things before they come into existence? but the words in both cases are spoken after the manner of men. For as when (the Psalmist ) says that He searches the hearts of men, he means not a search of ignorance but of exact knowledge, just so when the Evangelist says that He proved (Philip), he means only that He knew exactly. And perhaps one might say another thing, that as He once made Abraham more approved, so also did He this man, bringing him by this question to an exact knowledge of the miracle. The Evangelist therefore, that you мая not stop at the feebleness of the expression, and so form an improper opinion of what was said, adds, He Himself knew what He would do.

Moreover we must observe this, that when there is any wrong suspicion, the writer straightway very carefully corrects it. As then in this place that the hearers might not form any such suspicion, he adds the corrective, saying, For He Himself knew what He would do: so also in that other place, when He says, that the Jews persecuted Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God, had there not been the assertion of Christ Himself confirmed by His works, he would there also have subjoined this correction. For if even in words which Christ speaks the Evangelist is careful that none should have suspicions, much more in cases where others were speaking of Him would he have looked closely, had he perceived that an improper opinion prevailed concerning Him. But he did not so, for he knew that this was His meaning, and immovable decree. Therefore after saying, making Himself equal with God, he used not any such correction; for the matter spoken of was not an erroneous fancy of theirs, but His own assertion ratified by His works. Philip then having been questioned,

Ver. 8, 9 . Andrew, Simon's brother, said, There is a lad here, which has five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

Andrew is higher minded than Philip, yet had not he attained to everything. Yet I do not think that he spoke without an object, but as having heard of the miracles of the Prophets, and how Elisha wrought a sign with the loaves 2 Kings 4:43; on this account he mounted to a certain height, but could not attain to the very top.

Let us learn then, we who give ourselves to luxury, what was the fare of those great and admirable men; and in quality and quantity let us behold and imitate the thriftiness of their table.

What follows also expresses great weakness. For after saying, has five barley loaves, he adds, but what are they among so many? He supposed that the Worker of the miracle would make less out of less, and more out of more. But this was not the case, for it was alike easy to Him to cause bread to spring forth from more and from less, since He needed no subject-matter. But in order that the creation might not seem foreign to His Wisdom, as afterwards slanderers and those affected with the disease of Marcion said, He used the creation itself as a groundwork for His marvels.

When both the disciples had owned themselves at a loss, then He wrought the miracle; for thus they profited the more, having first confessed the difficulty of the matter, that when it should come to pass, they might understand the power of God. And because a miracle was about to be wrought, which had also been performed by the Prophets, although not in an equal degree, and because He would do it after first giving thanks, lest they should fall into any suspicion of weakness on His part, observe how by the very manner of His working He entirely raises their thoughts of it and shows them the difference (between Himself and others). For when the loaves had not yet appeared, that you мая learn, that things that are not are to Him as though they were, (as Paul says, who calls the things that be not as though they were Romans 4:17) He commanded them as though the table were prepared and ready, straightway to sit down, rousing by this the minds of His disciples. And because they had profited by the questioning, they immediately obeyed, and were not confounded, nor said, How is this, why dost Thou bid us sit down, when there is nothing before us? The same men, who at first disbelieved so much as to say, Whence shall we buy bread? began so far to believe even before they saw the miracle, that they readily made the multitudes to sit down.

3. But why when He was about to restore the paralytic did He not pray, nor when He was raising the dead, or bridling the sea, while He does so here over the loaves? It was to show that when we begin our meals, we ought to give thanks unto God. Moreover, He does it especially in a lesser matter, that you мая learn that He does it not as having any need; for were this the case, much more would He have done so in greater things; but when He did them by His own authority, it is clear that it was through condescension that He acted as He did in the case of the lesser. Besides, a great multitude was present, and it was necessary that they should be persuaded that He had come according to the will of God. Wherefore, when He does miracles in the absence of witnesses, He exhibits nothing of the kind; but when He does them in the presence of many, in order to persuade them that He is no enemy of God, no adversary of Him who has begotten Him, He removes the suspicion by thanksgiving.

And He gave to them that were set down, and they were filled.

Do you see how great is the interval between the servants and the Master? They having grace by measure, wrought their miracles accordingly, but God, who acts with free power, did all most abundantly.

Ver. 12 . And He said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments which remain; – and they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets.

This was not a superfluous show, but in order that the matter might not be deemed a mere illusion; and for this reason He creates from matter already subsisting. But why gave He not the bread to the multitudes to bear, but (only) to His disciples? Because He was most desirous to instruct these who were to be the teachers of the world. The multitude would not as yet reap any great fruit from the miracles, (at least they straightway forgot this one and asked for another,) while these would gain no common profit. And what took place was moreover no ordinary condemnation of Judas, who bore a basket. And that these things were done for their instruction is plain from what is said afterwards, when He reminded them, saying, Do ye not yet understand – how many baskets ye took up? Matthew 16:9 And for the same reason it was that the baskets of fragments were equal in number to the disciples; afterwards, when they were instructed, they took not up so many, but only seven baskets. Matthew 15:37 And I marvel not only at the quantity of loaves created, but besides the quantity, at the exactness of the surplus, that He caused the superabundance to be neither more nor less than just so much as He willed, foreseeing how much they would consume; a thing which marked unspeakable power. The fragments then confirmed the matter, showing both these points; that what had taken place was no illusion, and that these were from the loaves by which the people had been fed. As to the fishes, they at this time were produced from those already subsisting, but at a later period, after the Resurrection, they were not made from subsisting matter. Wherefore? That you мая understand that even now He employed matter, not from necessity, nor as needing any base (to work upon), but to stop the mouths of heretics.

And the multitudes said, that this is of a truth The Prophet.

Oh, excess of gluttony! He had done ten thousand things more admirable than this, but nowhere did they make this confession, save when they had been filled. Yet hence it is evident that they expected some remarkable prophet; for those others had said (to John), Are you that Prophet? while these say, This is that Prophet.

Ver. 15 . When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain.

Wonderful! How great is the tyranny of gluttony, how great the fickleness of men's minds! No longer do they vindicate the Law, no longer do they care for the violation of the Sabbath, no longer are they zealous for God; all such considerations are thrown aside, when their bellies have been filled; He was a prophet in their eyes, and they were about to choose Him for a king. But Christ flees. Wherefore? To teach us to despise worldly dignities, and to show us that He needed nothing on earth. For He who chose all things mean, both mother and house and city and nurture and attire would not afterwards be made illustrious by things on earth. The things which (He had) from heaven were glorious and great, angels, a star, His Father loudly speaking, the Spirit testifying, and Prophets proclaiming Him from afar; those on earth were all mean, that thus His power might the more appear. He came also to teach us to despise the things of the world, and not be amazed or astonished by the splendors of this life, but to laugh them all to scorn, and to desire those which are to come. For he who admires things which are here, will not admire those in the heavens. Wherefore also He says to Pilate, My Kingdom is not of this world John 18:36, that He мая not afterwards appear to have employed mere human terror or dominion for the purpose of persuasion. Why then says the Prophet, Behold, your King comes unto you, meek, and sitting upon an ass? Zechariah 9:9 He spoke of that Kingdom which is in the heavens, but not of this on earth; and on this account Christ says, I receive not honor from men. John 5:41

Learn we then, beloved, to despise and not to desire the honor which is from men; for we have been honored with the greatest of honors, compared with which that other is verily insult, ridicule, and mockery. And as the riches of this world compared with the riches of that are poverty, as this life apart from that is deadness, (for let the dead bury their dead Matthew 8:28) so this honor compared with that is shame and ridicule. Let us then not pursue it. If they who confer it are of less account than a shadow or a dream, the honor itself much more so. The glory of man is as the flower of the grass 1 Peter 1:24; and what is meaner than the flower of the grass? Were this glory everlasting, in what could it profit the soul? In nothing. Nay, it very greatly injures us by making us slaves, slaves in worse condition than those bought with money, slaves who obey not one master only, but two, three, ten thousand, all giving different commands. How much better is it to be a free man than a slave, to be free from the slavery of men, and subject only to the dominion of God? In a word, if you will desire glory, desire it, but let it be the glory immortal, for that is exhibited on a more glorious stage, and brings greater profit. For the men here bid you be at charges to please them, but Christ, on the contrary, gives you an hundredfold for what you give Him, and adds moreover eternal life. Which of the two then is better, to be admired on earth, or in heaven? By man, or by God? To your loss, or to your gain? To wear a crown for a single day, or for endless ages? Give to him that needs, but give not to a dancer, lest you lose your money and destroy his soul. For you are the cause of his (coming to) perdition through unseasonable munificence. Since did those on the stage know that their employment would be unprofitable, they would have long ago ceased to practice it; but when they behold you applauding, crowding after them, spending and wasting your substance upon them, even if they have no desire to follow (their profession), they are kept to it by the desire of gain. If they knew that no one would praise what they do, they would soon desist from their labors, by reason of their unprofitableness; but when they see that the action is admired by many, the praise of others becomes a bait to them. Let us then desist from this unprofitable expense, let us learn upon whom and when we ought to spend. Let us not, I implore you, provoke God in both ways, gathering whence we ought not, and scattering where we ought not; for what anger does not your conduct deserve, when you pass by the poor and givest to a harlot? Would not the paying the hire of sin and the bestowing honor where it were meet to punish have been a charge against you, even had you paid out of your just earnings? But when you feed your uncleanness by stripping orphans and wronging widows, consider how great a fire is prepared for those who dare such things. Hear what Paul says, Who not only do these things, but also have pleasure in them that do them. Romans 1:32

Perhaps we have touched you sharply, yet if we touch you not, there are actual punishments awaiting those who sin without amendment. What then avails it to gratify by words those who shall be punished by realities? Do you take pleasure at a dancer, do you praise and admire him? Then are you worse than he; his poverty affords him an excuse though not a reasonable one, but you are stripped even of this defense. If I ask him, Why have you left other arts and come to this accursed and impure one? he will reply, because I can with little labor gain great profits. But if I ask you why you admire one who spends his time in impurity, and lives to the mischief of many, you can not run to the same excuse, but must bow down your face and be ashamed and blush. Now if when called by us to give account, you would have nothing to reply, class="greek">couldest reply nothing. «}--> when that terrible and inexorable Judgment comes where we shall render account of thoughts and deeds and everything, how shall we stand? With what eyes shall we behold our Judge? What shall we say? What defense shall we make? What excuse reasonable or unreasonable shall we put forward? Shall we allege the expense? The gratification? The perdition of others whom by means of his art we ruin? We can have nothing to say, but must be punished with a punishment having no end, knowing no limit. That this come not to pass, let us henceforth guard all points, that having departed with a good hope, we мая obtain the everlasting blessings; to which мая we all attain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 43 on the Gospel of John

John 6:16–18

And when even was now come, His disciples went down unto the sea and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come unto them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.

1. Christ provides for the good of his disciples not only when He is present in the body, but also when far away; for having abundance of means and of skill, He effects one and the same end by contrary actions. Observe, for instance, what He has done here. He leaves His disciples, and goes up into a mountain; and they, when even had come, went down unto the sea. They waited for Him until evening, expecting that He would come unto them; but when even had come, they could no longer endure not to seek their Master; so great a love possessed them. They said not, It is now evening, and night has overtaken us, whither shall we depart? The place is dangerous, the time unsafe; but, goaded by their longing, they entered into the ship. For it is not without a cause that the Evangelist has declared the time also, but by it to show the warmth of their love.

Wherefore then does Christ let them go, and not show Himself? And again, wherefore does He show Himself walking alone upon the sea? By the first He teaches them how great (an evil) it is to be forsaken by Him, and makes their longing greater; by the second, again, He shows forth His power. For as in His teaching they heard not all in common with the multitude, so in the case of the miracles they saw them not all with the mass of people, since it was needful that they who were about to receive in charge the presidency of the world, should have somewhat more than the rest. And what sort of miracles, says some one, saw they by themselves? The Transfiguration on the mount; this on the sea, and those after the Resurrection, which are many and important. And from these I conjecture that there were others also. They came to Capernaum without any certain information, but expecting to find Him there, or even in mid passage; this the Evangelist implies by saying that it was now dark, and Jesus was not yet come to them.

And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. What did they? They were troubled, for there were many and various causes which forced them to be so. They were afraid by reason of the time for it was dark, of the storm for the sea had risen, of the place for they were not near land; but,

John 6:19

Had rowed about five and twenty furlongs.

And, lastly, by reason of the strangeness of the thing, for,

They see Him walking upon the sea. And when they were greatly troubled,

John 6:20

He says unto them, It is I, be not afraid.

Wherefore then appears He? To show that it was He who would make the storm cease. For this the Evangelist has shown, saying,

John 6:21

They were willing to receive Him, and immediately the ship was near the land.

He not only gave them a safe passage, but also one with a fair wind.

To the multitude He shows not Himself walking upon the sea, for the miracle was too great to suit their infirmity. Indeed, even by the disciples He was not seen long doing this, but He appeared, and at once retired. Now this seems to me to be a different miracle from that found in Matthew xiv .; and that it is different is clear from many reasons. For He works often the same miracles, in order to cause the beholders not merely to count them very strange, but also to receive them with great faith.

It is I, be not afraid. As He spoke the word, He cast out fear from their souls. But at another time not so; wherefore Peter said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me to come unto You. Matthew 14:28 Whence then was it that at that time they did not straightway admit this, but now were persuaded? It was because then the storm continued to toss the bark, but now at His voice the calm had come. Or if the reason be not this, it is that other which I have before mentioned, that oftentimes working the same miracles, He made the second to be readily received by means of the first. But wherefore went He not up into the ship? Because He would make the marvel greater, would more openly reveal to them His Godhead, and would show them, that when He before gave thanks, He did not so as needing aid, but in condescension to them. He allowed the storm to arise, that they might ever seek Him; He stilled the storm, that He might make known to them His power; He went not up into the ship, that He might make the marvel greater.

John 6:22

And the people that were there saw that there was none other boat there save the one into which the disciples had entered, and that Jesus went not into the boat, but His disciples.

And why is John so exact? Why said he not that the multitudes having passed over on the next day departed? He desires to teach us something else, namely, that Jesus allowed the multitudes if not openly, at least in a secret manner, to suspect what had taken place. For, They saw, says he, that there was none other boat there but one, and that Jesus went not into it with His disciples.

John 6:24

And embarking in boats from Tiberias, they came to Capernaum seeking Jesus.

What else then could they suspect, save that He had arrived there crossing the sea on foot? For it was not possible to say that He had passed over in another ship. For there was one, says the Evangelist, into which His disciples entered. Still when they came to Him after so great a wonder, they asked Him not how He crossed over, how He arrived there, nor sought to understand so great a sign. But what say they?

John 6:25

Master, when did You come here?

2. Unless any one affirm that the when is here used by them in the sense of how. But it is worth while also to notice here the fickleness of their impulses For they who said, This is that Prophet; they who were anxious to take Him and make Him a king, now when they have found Him take no such counsel, but having cast out their astonishment, they no longer admire Him for His former deeds. They sought Him, desiring again to enjoy a table like the first.

The Jews under the guidance of Moses passed over the Red Sea, but that case is widely different from this. He did all with prayer and as a servant, but Christ with absolute power. There when the south wind blew, the water yielded so as to make them pass over on dry land, but here the miracle was greater. Exodus 14:21 For the sea retaining its proper nature so bare its Lord upon its surface, thus testifying to the Scripture which says, Who walks upon the sea as upon a pavement. Job 9:8

And with reason, when He was about to enter into stubborn and disobedient Capernaum, did He work the miracle of the loaves, as desiring not only by what took place within, but also by the miracles which were wrought without the city, to soften its disobedience. For was it not enough to soften even any stone, that such multitudes should come with great eagerness to that city? Yet they had no such feeling, but again desired food for the body; for which also they are reproached by Jesus.

Let us then, beloved, knowing these things, give thanks to God for things of sense, but much more for things spiritual; for such is His will, and it is on account of the latter that He gives the former, leading in, as it were, by these the more imperfect sort, and giving them previous teaching, because they are yet gaping upon the world. But when such persons having received these worldly things, rest in them, then are they upbraided and rebuked. For in the case of him that had the palsy, Christ wished first to give that which was spiritual, but they that were present endured it not; for when He said, Your sins be forgiven you, they exclaimed, This man blasphemes. Matthew 9:2 Let us not, I entreat you, be so affected, but let us make more account of those (spiritual) things. Wherefore? Because when spiritual things are present with us, no harm arises from the absence of fleshly things; but when they are not, what hope, what comfort, shall then remain to us? Wherefore it is for these we ought always to call upon God, and entreat Him for them. And for such has Christ also taught us to pray; for if we unfold that Prayer, we shall find that there is nothing carnal in it, but all spiritual, and that even the small portion which seems to relate to sense, becomes by the manner spiritual. For to bid us ask no more than our successive, that is, our daily, bread, would mark a mind spiritual and truly wise. And consider what goes before that, Hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done as in heaven so on earth; then, after naming that temporal (need), He quickly leaves it, and brings us again to the spiritual doctrine, saying, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Nowhere has He put in the Prayer riches or glory or dominion, but all things contributing to the benefit of the soul; nothing earthly, but all things heavenly. If then we are bidden to refrain from the things of this present life, how could we help being wretched and miserable, asking from God those things which even having He bids us cast away, to free us from care about them, and for which He bids us take no pains. This is the using vain repetition; and this is why we effect nothing by our prayers. How then, says some one, do the wicked grow rich, how the unjust and impure, plunderers and covetous? Not by God's giving; (away with the thought!) but by plundering, and taking more than their due. And how does God allow them? As He allowed that rich man, reserving him for greater punishment. Luke 16:25 Hear what (Abraham) says to him; Son, thou in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and you are tormented. Therefore that we also come not to hear that voice, by living softly and idly, and gathering together for ourselves many sins, let us choose the true riches and right wisdom, that we мая obtain the promised good things; to which мая we all arrive, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 44 on the Gospel of John

John 6:26–27

Jesus answered them, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, You seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures unto everlasting life.

1. The mild and gentle is not always useful, but there are times when the teacher needs sharper language. For if the disciple be dull and gross, then, in order to touch his dullness to the quick, we must rouse him with a goad. And this the Son of God has done in the present as well as in many other cases. For when the crowds had come and found Jesus, and were flattering Him, and saying, Master, when did You get here? to show that He desires not honor from men, but looks to one thing only, their salvation, He answers them sharply, wishing to correct them not in this way only, but also by revealing and exposing their thoughts. For what says He? Verily, verily, I say unto you, (speaking positively and with a confirmation,) You seek Me, not because ye saw miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled. He chides and reproves them by these words, yet does not so abruptly or violently, but very sparingly. For He says not, O you gluttons and belly-slaves, I have wrought so many wonders, and you never have either followed Me, or marveled at My doings; but mildly and gently somewhat in this manner; You seek Me, not because ye saw miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled; speaking not only of the past, but also of the present miracle. It was not, He says, the miracle of the loaves that astonished you, but the being filled. And that He said not this of them by conjecture they straightway showed, for on this account they came the second time, as being about to enjoy the same (food) as before. Wherefore they said, Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness. Again they draw Him to (the subject of) carnal food, which was the chief accusation and charge against them. But He stops not at rebukes, but adds instruction also, saying, Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures unto everlasting life.

Which the Son of Man gives unto you; for Him has God the Father sealed.

What He says, is of this kind: Make no account of this earthly, but of that spiritual food. But since some of those who desire to live in doing nothing have abused this speech, as though Christ would entirely abolish working, it is seasonable to say somewhat to them. For they slander, so to speak, all Christianity, and cause it to be ridiculed on the score of idleness. First however, we must mention that saying of Paul. What says he? Remember the Lord, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 Now how can it be possible for him to give who has not? How then says Jesus to Martha, You are careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part? Luke 10:41–42; and again, Take no thought for the morrow. Matthew 6:34 For it is necessary now to resolve all these questions, not only that we мая check men if they would be idle, but also that the oracles of God мая not appear to bring in what is contradictory.

Now Paul in another place says, But we beseech you, brethren, that you increase more and more, that you study to be quiet, and to do your own business; that you мая walk honestly toward them that are without 1 Thessalonians 4:10–12; and again; Let him that stole, steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his own hands, that he мая have to give to him that needs. Ephesians 4:28 Here the Apostle bids not simply work, but to work so vigorously and laboriously, as to have thereby somewhat to give to others. And in another place the same says again; These hands have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me. Acts 20:34 And writing to the Corinthians he said, What is my reward then? Verily, that when I preach the Gospel, I мая make the Gospel of Christ without charge. 1Corinthians 9:18 And when he was in that city, he abode with Aquila and Priscilla, and wrought, for by their occupation they were tentmakers. Acts 18:3

These passages show a yet more decided opposition as to the letter; we must therefore now bring forward the solution. What then must be our reply? That to take no thought, does not mean not to work, but not to be nailed to the things of this life; that is, to take no care for tomorrow's ease, but to deem that superfluous. For a man мая do no work, and (yet) lay up treasure for the morrow; and a man мая work, yet be careful for nothing; for carefulness and work are not the same thing; it is not as trusting to his work that a man works, but, that he мая impart to him that needs. And that too which was said to Martha refers not to works and working, but to this, that it is our duty to know the right season, and not to spend on carnal things the time proper for listening. Thus Christ spoke not the words as urging her to idleness, but to rivet her to listening. I came, says He, to teach you needful things, but you are anxious about a meal. Do you desire to receive Me, and to provide for Me a costly table? Provide another sort of entertainment, by giving me a ready hearing, and by imitating your sister's longing for instruction. He said not this to forbid her hospitality, (away with the thought! How could that be?) but to show that she ought not in the season for listening be busy about other matters. For to say, Labor not for the meat that perishes, is not the expression of one implying that we ought to be idle; (in fact, this most especially is meat that perishes, for idleness is wont to teach all wickedness;) but that we ought to work, and to impart. This is meat that never perishes; but if any be idle and gluttonous, and cares for luxury, that man works for the meat that perishes. So too, if a man by his labor should feed Christ, and give Him drink, and clothe Him, who so senseless and mad as to say that such an one labors for the meat that perishes, when there is for this the promise of the kingdom that is to come, and of those good things? This meat endures forever. But at that time, since the multitudes made no account of filth, nor sought to learn who it was that did these things, and by what power, but desired one thing only, to fill their bellies without working; Christ with good reason called such food, meat that perishes. I fed, He says, your bodies, that after this ye might seek that other food which endures, which nourishes the soul; but you again run after that which is earthy. Therefore ye do not understand that I lead you not to this imperfect food, but to that which gives not temporal but eternal life, which nourishes not the body but the soul. Then when He had uttered such great words concerning Himself, and had said that He would give this food, in order that what was spoken might not stand in their way, to make His saying credible He attributes the supply to the Father. For after saying, Which the Son of Man shall give you; He adds, Him has God the Father sealed, that is, has sent Him for this purpose, that He might bring the food to you. The saying also admits of another interpretation; for in another place Christ says, He that hears My words, has set to his seal that God is true John 3:33, that is, has showed forth undeniably. Which indeed the expression seems to me to hint at even in this place, for the Father has sealed, is nothing else than has declared, has revealed by His testimony. He in fact declared Himself too, but since He was speaking to Jews, He brought forward the testimony of the Father.

2. Learn we then, beloved, to ask of God the things which it is meet for us to ask of Him. For those other things, those, I mean, which belong to this life, whichever way they мая fall out, can do us no injury; for if we be rich, it is here only that we shall enjoy our luxury; and if we fall into poverty, we shall suffer nothing terrible. For neither the splendors nor the pains of the present life have much power in respect either of despondency or pleasure, they are contemptible, and slip away very swiftly. Wherefore they are called a way, with reason, because they pass away, and by their very nature do not long endure, but the things which are to come endure eternally, both those of punishment and those of the Kingdom. Let us then in regard of these things use much diligence to avoid the first and to choose the last. For what is the advantage of this world's luxury? Today it is, and tomorrow it is not; today a bright flower, tomorrow scattered dust; today a burning fire, tomorrow smouldering ashes. But spiritual things are not so, they ever remain shining and blooming, and becoming brighter every day. That wealth never perishes, never departs, never ceases, never brings with it care or envy or blame, destroys not the body, corrupts not the soul, is without ill will, heaps not up malice; all which things attend on the other kind of wealth. That honor lifts not men into folly, does not make them puffed up, never ceases nor is dimmed. Again, the rest and delight of heaven endures continually, ever being immovable and immortal, one cannot find its end or limit. This life then let us desire, for if we do so we shall make no account of present things, but shall despise and mock at them all, and though one should bid us enter into kingly halls, we shall not while we have this hope choose to do so; yet nothing (earthly) seems more near to happiness than such a permission; but to those who are possessed by love of heaven, even this seems little and mean, and worthy of no account. Nothing which comes to an end is to be much desired; whatever ceases, and today is and tomorrow is not, even though it be very great, yet seems to be very little and contemptible. Then let us not cling to fleeting things which slip away and depart, but to those which are enduring and immovable. To which мая we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 45 on the Gospel of John

John 6:28–30

Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent. They said therefore unto Him, What sign do you show then, that we мая see and believe you? What do you work?

1. There is nothing worse, nothing more shameful, than gluttony; it makes the mind gross, and the soul carnal; it blinds, and permits not to see clearly. Observe, for instance, how this is the case with the Jews; for because they were intent upon gluttony, entirely occupied with worldly things, and without any spiritual thoughts, though Christ leads them on by ten thousand sayings, sharp and at the same time forbearing, even thus they arise not, but continue groveling below. For consider; He said to them, You seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the bread, and were filled; He touched them by the reproof, He showed them what food they ought to seek, saying, Labor not for the meat that perishes; He set before them the prize, saying, but that which endures unto everlasting life; then provided a remedy for what might have been an objection, by declaring that He was sent from the Father.

What then did they? As though they had heard nothing, they said, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? This they said, not that they might learn and do them, (as the sequel shows,) but to induce Him again to supply them with food, and desiring to persuade Him to satisfy them. What then says Christ? This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent. On this they asked, What sign do you show, that we мая see and believe?

John 6:31

Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness.

Nothing more senseless, nothing more unreasonable, than these men! While the miracle was yet in their hands, as though none had been done, they spoke after this manner, What sign do you show? and having thus spoken, they do not even allow Him the right of choosing the sign, but think to force Him to exhibit none other than such a one as was wrought in the days of their fathers; wherefore they say, Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, thinking by this to provoke Him to work such a miracle as might supply them with carnal nourishment. Else why did they mention none other of the miracles of old, though many took place in those times, both in Egypt and at the sea and in the wilderness, but only that of the manna? Was it not because they greatly desired that one by reason of the tyranny of their bellies? You who when you saw His miracle called him a Prophet, and attempted to make Him a king, how is that now, as though none had been wrought, you have become thankless and ill-minded, and ask for a sign, uttering words fit for parasites, or hungry dogs? Does the manna now seem wonderful to you? Your soul is not now parched up.

Mark too their hypocrisy. They said not, Moses did this sign, what doest thou? thinking it would annoy Him; but for a while they address Him with great reverence, through expectation of food. So they neither said, God did this, what doest thou? that they might not seem to make Him equal with God; nor did they bring forward Moses, that they might not seem to lower Him, but put the matter in an intermediate form, Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness. He indeed might have replied, I, but now, have wrought greater wonders than did Moses, requiring no rod, having no need of prayer, but doing all of Myself; and, if you call to remembrance the manna, see, I have given you bread. But this was not the season for such speeches; and the one thing He earnestly desired was, to bring them to spiritual food. And observe His infinite wisdom and His manner of answering.

John 6:32

Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

Why said He not, It was not Moses that gave it to you, but I; but puts God in the place of Moses, and Himself instead of manna? Because the infirmity of His hearers was great. As is seen from what follows. For not even when He had spoken thus did He secure their attention, although He said at first, You seek Me, not because ye saw the miracle, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. John 6:26 Now because they sought these (carnal) things, He would have corrected them by His succeeding words, yet not even so did they desist. When He promised the Samaritan woman that He would give her the water, He made no mention of the Father. What says He? If you knew who it is that says unto you, Give Me to drink, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given unto you living water John 4:10; and again, The water which I shall give. He referrs her not to The Father. But here He makes mention of The Father, that you мая understand how great was the faith of the Samaritan woman, and how great the infirmity of the Jews.

Was then the manna not from heaven? How then is it said to be from heaven? In the same manner as Scripture speaks of fowls of heaven Psalm 8:8; and again, The Lord thundered from heaven. Psalm 18:13 And He calls that other the true bread, not because the miracle of the manna was false, but because it was a type, and not the very truth. But in mentioning Moses, He does not compare Himself to him, for the Jews did not as yet prefer Him to Moses, of whom they still had a higher opinion. So that after saying, Moses gave not, He adds not that I give, but says that The Father, and not Moses, gives. They, when they heard this, replied, Give us this bread to eat; for they yet thought that it was something material, they yet expected to gratify their appetites, and so hastily ran to Him. What does Christ? Leading them on little by little, He says,

John 6:33

The bread of God is He which comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.

Not, says He, to Jews alone, but to all the world, not mere food, but life, another and an altered life. He calls it life, because they all were dead in sins. Yet they still kept downward bent, saying,

John 6:34

Give us this bread.

Then He, to rebuke them, because while they supposed that the food was material they ran to Him, but not when they learned that it was a spiritual kind, said,

John 6:35–36

I am the bread of life; he that comes to Me shall never hunger, and he that believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you, that you also have seen Me, and believe Me not.

2. Thus also John cries, saying beforehand, He speaks that He knows, and testifies that He has seen, and no man receives His testimony John 3:32; and again Christ Himself, We speak that We do know, and testify that We have seen John 3:11, and you believe not. This He does to prevent them, and to show them that the matter does not trouble Him, that He desires not honor, that He is not ignorant of the secrets of their minds, nor of things present, nor of things to come.

I am the bread of life. Now He proceeds to commit unto them mysteries. And first He discourses of His Godhead, saying, I am the bread of life. For this is not spoken of His Body, (concerning that He says towards the end, And the bread which I shall give is My flesh,) but at present it referrs to His Godhead. For That, through God the Word, is Bread, as this bread also, through the Spirit descending on it, is made Heavenly Bread. Here He uses not witnesses, as in His former address, for He had the miracle of the loaves to witness to Him, and the Jews themselves for a while pretending to believe Him; in the former case they opposed and accused Him. This is the reason why here He declares Himself. But they, since they expected to enjoy a carnal feast, were not disturbed until they gave up their hope. Yet not for that was Christ silent, but uttered many words of reproof. For they, who while they were eating called Him a Prophet, were here offended, and called Him the carpenter's son; not so while they ate the loaves, then they said, He is The Prophet, and desired to make Him a king. Now they seemed to be indignant at His asserting that He came down from heaven, but in truth it was not this that caused their indignation, but the thought that they should not enjoy a material table. Had they been really indignant, they ought to have asked and enquired how He was the bread of life, how He had come down from heaven; but now they do not this, but murmur. And that it was not this which offended them is plain from another circumstance. When He said, My Father gives you the bread, they exclaimed not, Beseech Him that He give; but what? Give us that bread; yet He said not, I give, but, My Father gives; nevertheless, they, from desire of the food, thought Him worthy to be trusted to for its supply. Now how should they, who deemed Him worthy of their trust for giving, be afterward offended when they also heard that the Father gives? What is the reason? It is that when they heard that they were not to eat, they again disbelieved, and put forth by way of a cloak for their disbelief, that it was a high saying. Wherefore He says, You have seen Me, and believe not John 5:39; alluding partly to His miracles, partly to the testimony from the Scriptures; For they, He says, are they which testify of Me c. v. 43, 44; and, I have come in My Father's Name, and you receive Me not; and, How can you believe which receive honor of men?

John 6:37

All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and him that comes to Me I will in nowise cast out.

Observe how He does all things for the sake of them that are saved; therefore He added this, that He might not seem to be trifling and speaking these things to no purpose. But what is it that He says, All that the Father gives Me shall come unto Me John 6:37, and I will raise it up in the last day? John 6:40 Wherefore speaks He of the common resurrection, in which even the ungodly have a part, as though it were the peculiar gift of those who believe in Him? Because He speaks not simply of resurrection, but of a particular kind of resurrection. For having first said, I will not cast him out, I shall lose nothing of it, He then speaks of the resurrection. Since in the resurrection some are cast out, (Take him, and cast him into outer darkness, Matthew 22:13) and some are destroyed. (Rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.) Matthew 10:28 And the expression, I give eternal life John 10:28, declares this; for they that have done evil shall go forth to the resurrection of damnation, and they that have done good to the resurrection of life. John 5:29 This then, the resurrection to good things, is that which He here designed. But what means He by saying, All that the Father gives Me, shall come to Me? He touches their unbelief, showing that whosoever believes not on Him transgresses the will of the Father. And thus He says it not nakedly, but in a covert manner, and this He does everywhere, wishing to show that unbelievers are at variance with the Father, not with Him alone. For if this is His will, and if for this He came, that He might save man, those who believe not transgress His will. When therefore, He says, the Father guides any man, there is nothing that hinders him from coming unto Me; and in another place, No man can come unto Me, except the Father draw him. John 6:44 And Paul says, that He delivers them up unto the Father; When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father. 1Corinthians 15:24 Now as the Father when He gives does so without first depriving Himself, so the Son when He delivers up does so without excluding Himself. He is said to deliver us up, because through Him we have access (to the Father).

3. And the by whom is also applied to the Father, as when the Apostle says, By whom you were called unto the fellowship of His Son 1Corinthians 1:9: and, By the will of the Father. And again; Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you. Matthew 16:17 What He here intimates is something of this kind, that faith in Me is no ordinary thing, but needs an impulse from above; and this He establishes throughout His discourse, showing that this faith requires a noble sort of soul, and one drawn on by God.

But perhaps some one will say, If all that the Father gives, and whomsoever He shall draw, comes unto You, if none can come unto You except it be given him from above, then those to whom the Father gives not are free from any blame or charges. These are mere words and pretenses. For we require our own deliberate choice also, because whether we will be taught is a matter of choice, and also whether we will believe. And in this place, by the which the Father gives Me, He declares nothing else than that the believing on Me is no ordinary thing, nor one that comes of human reasonings, but needs a revelation from above, and a well-ordered soul to receive that revelation. And the, He that comes to Me shall be saved, means that he shall be greatly cared for. For on account of these, He says, I came, and took upon Me the flesh, and entered into the form of a servant. Then He adds;

John 6:38

I came down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.

What sayest Thou? Why, is Your will one, and His another? That none мая suspect this, He explains it by what follows, saying;

John 6:40

And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes in Him, мая have everlasting life.

Is not then this Your will? And how sayest Thou, I have come to send fire upon the earth, and what have I desired to see, if that be already kindled? Luke 12:49 For if Thou also desirest this, it is very clear that Your will and the Father's is one. In another place also He says, For as the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will. John 5:21 But what is the will of the Father? Is it not, that not so much as one of them should perish? This Thou willest also. Matthew 18:14 So that the will of the One differs not from the will of the Other. So in another place He is seen establishing yet more firmly His equality with the Father, saying, I and My Father 'will come, and will make Our abode with him.' John 14:23 What He says then is this; I came not to do anything other than that which the Father wills, I have no will of My own different from that of the Father, for all that is the Father's is Mine, and all that is Mine is the Father's. If now the things of the Father and the Son are in common, He says with reason, Not that I might do My own will. But here He speaks not so, but reserves this for the end. For, as I have said, He conceals and veils for a while high matters, and desires to prove that had He even said, This is My will, they would have despised Him. He therefore says, that I co-operate with that Will, desiring thus to startle them more; as though He had said, What do you think? Do ye anger Me by your disbelief? Nay, you provoke My Father. For this is the will of Him that sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing. John 6:39 Here He shows that He needs not their service, that He came not for His own advantage, but for their salvation; and not to get honor from them. Which indeed He declared in a former address, saying, I receive not honor from men John 5:41; and again, These things I say that you мая be saved. John 5:34 Since He everywhere labors to persuade them that He came for their salvation. And He says, that He obtains honor to the Father, in order that He мая not be suspected by them. And that it is for this reason He thus speaks, He has more clearly revealed by what follows. For He says, He that seeks his own will seeks his own glory; but He that seeks His glory that sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. John 7:18 And this is the will of the Father, that every one which sees the Son, and believes in Him, мая have everlasting life. John 6:40

And I will raise him up at the last day. Why does He continually dwell upon the Resurrection? Is it that men мая not judge of God's providence by present things alone; that if they enjoy not results here, they become not on that account desponding, but wait for the things that are to come, and that they мая not, because their sins are not punished for the present, despise Him, but look for another life.

Now those men gained nothing, but let us take pains to gain by having the Resurrection continually sounded in our ears; and if we desire to be grasping, or to steal, or to do any wrong thing, let us straightway take into our thoughts that Day, let us picture to ourselves the Judgment-seat, for such reflections will check the evil impulse more strongly than any bit. Let us continually say to others, and to ourselves, There is a resurrection, and a fearful tribunal awaits us. If we see any man insolent and puffed up with the good things of his world, let us make the same remark to him, and show him that all those things abide here: and if we observe another grieving and impatient, let us say the same to him, and point out to him that his sorrows shall have an end; if we see one careless and dissipated, let us say the same charm over him, and show that for his carelessness he must render account. This saying is able more than any other remedy to heal our souls. For there is a Resurrection, and that Resurrection is at our doors, not afar off, nor at a distance. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Hebrews 10:37 And again, We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ 2Corinthians 5:10; that is, both bad and good, the one to be shamed in sight of all, the other in sight of all to be made more glorious. For as they who judge here punish the wicked and honor the good publicly, so too will it be there, that the one sort мая have the greater shame, and the other more conspicuous glory. Let us picture these things to ourselves every day. If we are ever revolving them, no care for present things will be able to sting us. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2Corinthians 4:18 Continually let us say to ourselves and to others, There is a Resurrection, and a Judgment, and a scrutiny of our actions; and let as many as deem that there is such a thing as fate repeat this, and they shall straightway be delivered from the rottenness of their malady; for if there is a Resurrection, and a Judgment, there is no fate, though they bring ten thousand arguments, and choke themselves to prove it. But I am ashamed to be teaching Christians concerning the Resurrection: for he that needs to learn that there is a Resurrection, and who has not firmly persuaded himself that the affairs of this world go not on by fate, and without design, and as chance will have them, can be no Christian. Wherefore, I exhort and beseech you, that we cleanse ourselves from all wickedness, and do all in our power to obtain pardon and excuse in that Day.

Perhaps some one will say, When will be the consummation? When will be the Resurrection? See how long a time has gone by, and nothing of the kind has come to pass? Yet it shall be, be sure. For those before the flood spoke after this manner, and mocked at Noah, but the flood came and swept away all those unbelievers, but preserved him who believed. And the men of Lot's time expected not that stroke from God, until those lightnings and thunderbolts came down and destroyed them all utterly. Neither in the case of these men, nor of those who lived in the time of Noah, was there any preamble to what was about to happen, but when they were all living daintily, and drinking, and mad with wine, then came these intolerable calamities upon them. So also shall the Resurrection be; not with any preamble, but while we are in the midst of good times. Wherefore Paul says, For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 God has so ordered this, that we мая be always struggling, and be not confident even in time of safety. What do you say? Do you not expect that there will be a Resurrection and a Judgment? The devils confess these, and are you shameless? Have You come, they say, to torment us before the time? Matthew 8:29; now they who say that there will be torment; are aware of the Judgment, and the reckoning, and the vengeance. Let us not then besides daring evil deeds, anger God by disbelieving the word of the Resurrection. For as in other things Christ has been our beginning, so also has He in this; wherefore He is called the first-born from the dead. Colossians 1:18 Now if there were no Resurrection, how could He be the first-born, when no one of the dead was to follow Him? If there were no Resurrection, how would the justice of God be preserved, when so many evil men prosper, and so many good men are afflicted and die in their affliction? Where shall each of these obtain his deserts, if so be that there is no Resurrection? No one of those who have lived aright disbelieves the Resurrection, but every day they pray and repeat that holy sentence, Your Kingdom come. Who then are they that disbelieve the Resurrection? They who have unholy ways and an unclean life: as the Prophet says, His ways are always polluted. Your judgments are far above out of his sight. Psalm 10:5 For a man cannot possibly live a pure life without believing in the Resurrection; since they who are conscious of no iniquity both speak of, and wish for, and believe in it, that they мая receive their recompense. Let us not then anger Him, but hear Him when He says, Fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell Matthew 10:28; that by that fear we мая become better, and being delivered from that perdition, мая be deemed worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. Which мая we all attain to, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and to the endless ages of eternity. Amen.

Homily 46 on the Gospel of John

John 6:41–42

The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, I am the Bread which came down from heaven; and they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, I came down from heaven?

1. Whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame Philippians 3:19, said Paul of certain persons, writing to the Philippians. Now that the Jews were of this character is clear, both from what has gone before, and from what they came and said to Christ. For when He gave them bread, and filled their bellies, they said that He was a Prophet, and sought to make Him a King: but when He taught them concerning spiritual food, concerning eternal life, when He led them away from objects of sense, and spoke to them of a resurrection, and raised their thoughts to higher matters, when most they ought to have admired, they murmur and start away. And yet, if He was that Prophet as they before asserted, declaring that he it was of whom Moses had said, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like me, unto Him shall you hearken Deuteronomy 18:15; they ought to have hearkened to Him when He said, I came down from heaven; yet they hearkened not, but murmured. They still reverenced Him, because the miracle of the loaves was recent, and therefore they did not openly gainsay Him, but by murmuring expressed their displeasure, that He did not give them the meal which they desired. And murmuring they said, Is not this the son of Joseph? Whence it is plain, that as yet they knew not of His strange and marvelous Generation. And so they still say that He is the son of Joseph, and are not rebuked; and He says not to them, I am not the Son of Joseph; not because He was his son, but because they were not as yet able to hear of that marvelous Birth. And if they could not bear to hear in plain terms of His birth according to the flesh, much less could they hear of that ineffable Birth which is from above. If He revealed not that which was lower to them, much less would He commit to them the other. Although this greatly offended them, that He was born from a mean and common father, still He revealed not to them the truth, lest in removing one cause of offense He should create another. What then said He when they murmured?

John 6:44

No man can come unto Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw Him.

The Manichæans spring upon these words, saying, that nothing lies in our own power; yet the expression shows that we are masters of our will. For if a man comes to Him, says some one, what need is there of drawing? But the words do not take away our free will, but show that we greatly need assistance. And He implies not an unwilling comer, but one enjoying much succor. Then He shows also the manner in which He draws; for that men мая not, again, form any material idea of God, He adds,

John 6:46

Not that any man has seen God, save He which is of God, He has seen the Father.

How then, says some one, does the Father draw? This the Prophet explained of old, when he proclaimed beforehand, and said,

John 6:45

They shall all be taught of God. Isaiah 54:13

Do you see the dignity of faith, and that not of men nor by man, but by God Himself they shall learn this? And to make this assertion credible, He referred them to their prophets. If then 'all shall be taught of God,' how is it that some shall not believe? Because the words are spoken of the greater number. Besides, the prophecy means not absolutely all, but all that have the will. For the teacher sits ready to impart what he has to all, and pouring forth his instruction unto all.

John 6:44

And I will raise him up in the last day.

Not slight here is the authority of the Son, if so be that the Father leads, He raises up. He distinguishes not His working from that of the Father, (how could that be?) but shows equality of power. As, therefore, after saying in that other place, The Father which has sent Me bears witness of Me, He then, that they might not be over-curious about the utterance, referred them to the Scriptures; so here, that they мая not entertain similar suspicions, He referrs them to the Prophets, whom He continually and everywhere quotes, to show that He is not opposed to the Father.

But what of those, says some one, who were before His time? Were not they taught of God? Why then the special application of the words here? Because of old they learned the things of God by the hands of men, but now by the Only-begotten Son of God, and by the Holy Ghost. Then He adds, Not that any man has seen the Father, save He which is of God, using this expression here not with reference to the cause, but to the manner of being. Since had He spoken in the former sense, we are all of God. And where then would be the special and distinct nature of the Son? But wherefore, says some one, did He not put this more clearly? Because of their weakness. For if when He said, I have come down from heaven, they were so offended, what would they have felt had He added this?

John 6:48

The bread of life.

He calls Himself, the bread of life, because He maintains our life both which is and which is to be, and says, Whosoever shall eat of this bread shall live forever. By bread He means here either His saving doctrines and the faith which is in Him, or His own Body; for both nerve the soul. Yet in another place He said, If a man hear My saying, he shall never taste of death. John 8:51 And they were offended; here they had no such feeling perhaps, because they yet respected Him on account of the loaves which had been made.

2. And observe how He distinguishes between His bread and the manna, by causing them to hear the result of each kind of food. For to show that the manna afforded them no unusual advantage, He added,

John 6:49

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

He then establishes a thing most likely to persuade them, that they were deemed worthy of greater things than their fathers, (meaning those marvelous men who lived in the time of Moses,) and so, after saying that they were dead who ate the manna, He adds,

Ver. 51 . He that eats of this bread, shall live forever.

Nor has He put in the wilderness without a cause, but to point out that the supply of manna was not extended to a long time, nor entered with them into the land of promise. But this bread was not of the same kind.

And the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Here one might reasonably enquire, how this was a fit season for these words, which neither edified nor profited, but rather did mischief to those who had been edified; for from that time, says the Evangelist, many of His disciples went back, saying, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? John 6:60; since these things might have been entrusted to the disciples only, as Matthew has told us that He discoursed with them apart. Mark 4:34; see Matthew 13:36 What then shall we say? What is the profit of the words? Great is the profit and necessity of them. Because they pressed upon Him, asking for bodily food, reminding Him of the food provided in the days of their forefathers, and speaking of the manna as a great thing, to show them that all those things were but type and shadow, but that the very reality of the matter was now present with them, He mentions spiritual food. But, says some one, he ought to have said, Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, but I have given you bread. But the interval between the two miracles was great, and the latter of them would have appeared inferior to the former, because the manna came down from heaven, but this, the miracle of the loaves, was wrought on earth. When therefore they sought food coming down from heaven, He continually told them, I came down from heaven. And if any one enquire why He introduced the discourse on the Mysteries, we will reply, that this was a very fitting time for such discourses; for indistinctness in what is said always rouses the hearer, and renders him more attentive. They ought not then to have been offended, but rather to have asked and enquired. But now they went back. If they believed Him to be a Prophet, they ought to have believed His words, so that the offense was caused by their own folly, not by any difficulty in the words. And observe how little by little He led them up to Himself. Here He says that Himself gives, not the Father; The bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

But, says some one, this doctrine was strange to them and unusual. And yet John at an earlier period alluded to it by calling Him Lamb. John 1:29 But for all that, they knew it not. I know they did not; nay, neither did the disciples understand. For if as yet they had no clear knowledge of the Resurrection, and so knew not what, Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up John 2:19, might mean, much more would they be ignorant of what is said here. For these words were less clear than those. Since that prophets had raised men from the dead, they knew, even if the Scriptures have not spoken so clearly on the subject, but not one of them ever asserted that any man had eaten flesh. Still they obeyed, and followed Him, and confessed that He had the words of eternal life. For this is a disciple's part, not to be over-curious about the assertions of his teacher, but to hear and obey him, and to wait the proper time for the solution of any difficulties. How then, says some one, was it that the contrary came to pass, and that these men 'went back'? It was by reason of their folly. For when questioning concerning the how comes in, there comes in with it unbelief. So Nicodemus was perplexed, saying, How can a man enter into his mother's womb? So also these are confounded, saying,

Ver. 52 . How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

If you seek to know the how, why asked not you this in the matter of the loaves, how He extended five to so great a number? Because they then only thought of being satisfied, not of seeing the miracle. But, says some one, their experience then taught them. Then by reason of that experience these words ought to have been readily received. For to this end He wrought beforehand that strange miracle, that taught by it they might no longer disbelieve what should be said by Him afterwards.

3. Those men then at that time reaped no fruit from what was said, but we have enjoyed the benefit in the very realities. Wherefore it is necessary to understand the marvel of the Mysteries, what it is, why it was given, and what is the profit of the action. We become one Body, and members of His flesh and of His bones. Ephesians 5:30 Let the initiated follow what I say. In order then that we мая become this not by love only, but in very deed, let us be blended into that flesh. This is effected by the food which He has freely given us, desiring to show the love which He has for us. On this account He has mixed up Himself with us; He has kneaded up His body with ours, that we might be a certain One Thing, like a body joined to a head. For this belongs to them who love strongly; this, for instance, Job implied, speaking of his servants, by whom he was beloved so exceedingly, that they desired to cleave unto his flesh. For they said, to show the strong love which they felt, Who would give us to be satisfied with his flesh? Job 31:31 Wherefore this also Christ has done, to lead us to a closer friendship, and to show His love for us; He has given to those who desire Him not only to see Him, but even to touch, and eat Him, and fix their teeth in His flesh, and to embrace Him, and satisfy all their love. Let us then return from that table like lions breathing fire, having become terrible to the devil; thinking on our Head, and on the love which He has shown for us. Parents often entrust their offspring to others to feed; but I, says He, do not so, I feed you with My own flesh, desiring that you all be nobly born, and holding forth to you good hopes for the future. For He who gives out Himself to you here, much more will do so hereafter. I have willed to become your Brother, for your sake I shared in flesh and blood, and in turn I give out to you the flesh and the blood by which I became your kinsman. This blood causes the image of our King to be fresh within us, produces beauty unspeakable, permits not the nobleness of our souls to waste away, watering it continually, and nourishing it. The blood derived from our food becomes not at once blood, but something else; while this does not so, but straightway waters our souls, and works in them some mighty power. This blood, if rightly taken, drives away devils, and keeps them afar off from us, while it calls to us Angels and the Lord of Angels. For wherever they see the Lord's blood, devils flee, and Angels run together. This blood poured forth washed clean all the world; many wise sayings did the blessed Paul utter concerning it in the Epistle to the Hebrews. This blood cleansed the secret place, and the Holy of Holies. And if the type of it had such great power in the temple of the Hebrews, and in the midst of Egypt, when smeared on the door-posts, much more the reality. This blood sanctified the golden altar; without it the high priest dared not enter into the secret place. This blood consecrated priests, this in types cleansed sins. But if it had such power in the types, if death so shuddered at the shadow, tell me how would it not have dreaded the very reality? This blood is the salvation of our souls, by this the soul is washed, by this is beautiful, by this is inflamed, this causes our understanding to be more bright than fire, and our soul more beaming than gold; this blood was poured forth, and made heaven accessible.

4. Awful in truth are the Mysteries of the Church, awful in truth is the Altar. A fountain went up out of Paradise sending forth material rivers, from this table springs up a fountain which sends forth rivers spiritual. By the side of this fountain are planted not fruitless willows, but trees reaching even to heaven, bearing fruit ever timely and undecaying. If any be scorched with heat, let him come to the side of this fountain and cool his burning. For it quenches drought, and comforts all things that are burnt up, not by the sun, but by the fiery darts. For it has its beginning from above, and its source is there, whence also its water flows. Many are the streams of that fountain which the Comforter sends forth, and the Son is the Mediator, not holding mattock to clear the way, but opening our minds. This fountain is a fountain of light, spouting forth rays of truth. By it stand the Powers on high looking upon the beauty of its streams, because they more clearly perceive the power of the Things set forth, and the flashings unapproachable. For as when gold is being molten if one should (were it possible) dip in it his hand or his tongue, he would immediately render them golden; thus, but in much greater degree, does what here is set forth work upon the soul. Fiercer than fire the river boils up, yet burns not, but only baptizes that on which it lays hold. This blood was ever typified of old in the altars and sacrifices of righteous men, This is the price of the world, by This Christ purchased to Himself the Church, by This He has adorned Her all. For as a man buying servants gives gold for them, and again when he desires to deck them out does this also with gold; so Christ has purchased us with His blood, and adorned us with His blood. They who share this blood stand with Angels and Archangels and the Powers that are above, clothed in Christ's own kingly robe, and having the armor of the Spirit. Nay, I have not as yet said any great thing: they are clothed with the King Himself.

Now as this is a great and wonderful thing, so if you approach it with pureness, you approach for salvation; but if with an evil conscience, for punishment and vengeance. For, It says, he that eats and drinks unworthily of the Lord, eats and drinks judgment to himself 1Corinthians 11:29; since if they who defile the kingly purple are punished equally with those who rend it, it is not unreasonable that they who receive the Body with unclean thoughts should suffer the same punishment as those who rent it with the nails. Observe at least how fearful a punishment Paul declares, when he says, He that despised Moses' law dies without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing? Hebrews 1:28 Take we then heed to ourselves, beloved, we who enjoy such blessings; and if we desire to utter any shameful word, or perceive ourselves hurried away by wrath or any like passion, let us consider of what things we have been deemed worthy, of how great a Spirit we have partaken, and this consideration shall be a sobering of our unreasonable passions. For how long shall we be nailed to present things? How long shall it be before we rouse ourselves? How long shall we neglect our own salvation? Let us bear in mind of what things Christ has deemed us worthy, let us give thanks, let us glorify Him, not by our faith alone, but also by our very works, that we мая obtain the good things that are to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 47 on the Gospel of John

John 6:53–54

Jesus therefore said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have not eternal life in yourselves. Whoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has life in himself.

1. When we converse of spiritual things, let there be nothing secular in our souls, nothing earthy, let all such thoughts retire, and be banished, and let us be entirely given up to the hearing the divine oracles only. For if at the arrival of a king all confusion is driven away, much more when the Spirit speaks with us do we need great stillness, great awe. And worthy of awe is that which is said today. How it is so, hear. Verily I say unto you, Except a man eat My flesh, and drink My blood, he has not eternal life in him. Since the Jews had before asserted that this was impossible, He shows not only that it is not impossible, but that it is absolutely necessary. Wherefore He adds, He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood, has eternal life.

And I will raise him up at the last day. For since He had said, He that eats of this bread shall not die for ever John 6:50, not verbally quoted, and it was likely that this would stand in their way, (just as they before said, Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead; and how sayest Thou, that he shall not taste of death? John 8:52, not verbally quoted) He brings forward the Resurrection to solve the question, and to show that (the man who eats) shall not die at the last. He continually handles the subject of the Mysteries, showing the necessity of the action, and that it must by all means be done.

John 6:55

For My flesh is true meat, and My blood is true drink.

What is that He says? He either desires to declare that this is the true meat which saves the soul, or to assure them concerning what had been said, that they might not suppose the words to be a mere enigma or parable, but might know that it is by all means needful to eat the Body. Then He says,

John 6:56

He that eats My flesh, dwells in Me.

This He said, showing that such an one is blended with Him. Now what follows seems unconnected, unless we enquire into the sense; for, says some one, after saying, He that eats My flesh, dwells in Me, what kind of a consequence is it to add,

John 6:57

As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father.

Yet the words harmonize perfectly. For since He continually spoke of eternal life, to prove this point He introduces the expression, dwells in Me; for if he dwells in Me, and I live, it is plain that he will live also. Then He says, As the living Father has sent Me. This is an expression of comparison and resemblance, and its meaning is of this kind, I live in like manner as the Father lives. And that you мая not deem Him unbegotten, He immediately subjoins, by the Father, not by this to show that He needs, in order to live, any power working in Him, for He said before, to remove such a suspicion, As the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son also to have life in Himself; now if He needs the working of another, it will be found that either the Father has not given Him so to have it, and so the assertion is false, or if He has so given it, then He will need no other one to support Him. What then means the, By the Father? He here merely hints at the cause, and what He says is of this kind: As the Father lives, so I live, and he that eats Me shall live by Me. And the life of which He speaks is not life merely, but the excellent life; for that He spoke not simply of life, but of that glorious and ineffable life, is clear from this. For all men live, even unbelievers, and uninitiated, who eat not of that flesh. Do you see that the words relate not to this life, but to that other? And what He says is of this kind: He that eats My flesh, when he dies shall not perish nor suffer punishment; He spoke not of the general resurrection, (for all alike rise again,) but concerning the special, the glorious Resurrection, that which has a reward.

John 6:58

This is that bread which came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eats of this bread shall live forever.

Continually does He handle the same point, so as to imprint it on the understanding of the hearers, (for the teaching on these points was a kind of final teaching,) and to confirm the doctrine of the Resurrection and of eternal life. Wherefore He mentions the Resurrection since He promises eternal life, showing that that life is not now, but after the Resurrection. And whence, says some one, are these things clear? From the Scriptures; to them He everywhere referrs the Jews, bidding them learn these things from them. And by saying, Which gives life to the world, He incites them to jealousy, that from very vexation that others should enjoy the gift, they мая not stay without. And continually He reminds them of the manna, showing the difference, (between it and His bread,) and guiding them to the faith; for if He was able to support their life for forty years without harvest, or grain, or other things in course; much more now will He be able to do so, as having come for greater ends. Moreover, if those things were but types, and yet men collected what came down without sweat or labor; much more shall this be the case, where the difference is great both in the never dying, and in the enjoying the true life. And rightly has He spoken often of life, since this is desired by men, and nothing is so pleasing to them as not to die. Since even under the old Covenant, this was the promise, length of life and many days, but now it is not length merely, but life having no end. He desires at the same time to show, that He now revokes the punishment caused by sin, annulling that sentence which condemns to death, and bringing in not life merely, but life eternal, contrariwise to the former things.

John 6:59

These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.

2. The place where most of His marvels had been done, so that He ought there especially to have been listened to. But wherefore taught He in the synagogue and in the Temple? As well because He desired to catch the greatest number of them, as because He desired to show that He was not opposed to the Father.

John 6:60

But many of the disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying.

What means hard? Rough, laborious, troublesome. Yet He said nothing of this kind, for He spoke not of a mode of life, but of doctrines, continually handling the faith which is in Him. What then means, is a hard saying? Is it because it promises life and resurrection? Is it because He said that He came down from heaven? Or that it was impossible for one to be saved who ate not His flesh? Tell me, are these things hard? Who can assert that they are? What then means hard? It means, difficult to be received, transcending their infirmity, having much terror. For they thought that He uttered words too high for His real character, and such as were above Himself. Therefore they said,

Who can hear it?

Perhaps making excuse for themselves, since they were about to start away.

John 6:61–62

When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, (for this is an attribute of His Godhead to bring secret things to light,) He said to them, Does this offend you? What and if you shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?

This also He does in the case of Nathanael, saying, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig-tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these. John 1:50 And to Nicodemus, No man has ascended up to heaven but the Son of man which is in heaven. John 3:13 What then, does He add difficulties to difficulties? No, (that be far from Him,) but by the greatness of the doctrines, and the number of them, He desires to bring them over. For if one had said simply, I have come down from heaven, and added nothing more, he would have been the more likely to offend them; but He who said, My body is the life of the world; He who said, As the living Father has sent Me, so I live by the Father; and who said, I have come down from heaven, solves the difficulty. For the man who utters any one great thing concerning himself мая perhaps be suspected of feigning, but he who connects together so many one after another removes all suspicion. All that He does and says is intended to lead them away from the thought, that Joseph was His father. And it was not with a wish to strengthen, but rather to do away that stumbling-block, that He said this. For whosoever deemed that He was Joseph's son could not receive His sayings, while one that was persuaded that He had come down from heaven, and would ascend there, might more easily give heed to His words: at the same time He brings forward also another explanation, saying,

John 6:63

It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing.

His meaning is, You must hear spiritually what relates to Me, for he who hears carnally is not profited, nor gathers any advantage. It was carnal to question how He came down from heaven, to deem that He was the son of Joseph, to ask, How can he give us His flesh to eat? All this was carnal, when they ought to have understood the matter in a mystical and spiritual sense. But, says some one, how could they understand what the 'eating flesh' might mean? Then it was their duty to wait for the proper time and enquire, and not to abandon Him.

The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.

That is, they are divine and spiritual, have nothing carnal about them, are not subject to the laws of physical consequence, but are free from any such necessity, are even set above the laws appointed for this world, and have also another and a different meaning. Now as in this passage He said spirit, instead of spiritual, so when He speaks of flesh, He meant not carnal things, but carnally hearing, and alluding at the same time to them, because they ever desired carnal things when they ought to have desired spiritual. For if a man receives them carnally, he profits nothing. What then, is not His flesh, flesh? Most certainly. How then says He, that the flesh profits nothing? He speaks not of His own flesh, (God forbid!) but of those who received His words in a carnal manner. But what is understanding carnally? It is looking merely to what is before our eyes, without imagining anything beyond. This is understanding carnally. But we must not judge thus by sight, but must look into all mysteries with the eyes within. This is seeing spiritually. He that eats not His flesh, and drinks not His blood, has no life in him. How then does the flesh profit nothing, if without it we cannot live? Do you see that the words, the flesh profits nothing, are spoken not of His own flesh, but of carnal hearing?

John 6:64

But there are some of you that believe not.

Again, according to His custom, He adds weight to His words, by foretelling what would come to pass, and by showing that He spoke thus not from desire of honor from them, but because He cared for them. And when He said some, He excepted the disciples. For at first He said, You have both seen Me, and believe not John 6:36; but here, There are some of you that believe not.

For He knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.

John 6:65

And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me except it were given unto Him from above from My Father.

3. Here the Evangelist intimates to us the voluntary character of the Dispensation, and His endurance of evil. Nor is the, from the beginning, put here without a cause, but that you мая be aware of His foreknowledge from the first, and that before the words were uttered, and not after the men had murmured nor after they had been offended, He knew the traitor, but before, which was an attribute of Godhead. Then He added, Except it be given him from above from My Father; thus persuading them to deem God His Father, not Joseph, and showing them that it is no common thing to believe in Him. As though He had said, Unbelievers disturb Me not; trouble Me not, astonish Me not. I know of old before they were created, I know to whom the Father has given to believe; and do thou, when you hear that He has given, imagine not merely an arbitrary distribution, but that if any has rendered himself worthy to receive the gift, he has received it.

John 6:66

From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.

Rightly has the Evangelist said, not that they departed, but that they went back; showing that they cut themselves off from any increase in virtue, and that by separating themselves they lost the faith which they had of old. But this was not the case with the twelve; wherefore He says to them,

John 6:67

Will ye also go away?

Again showing that He needs not their ministry and service, and proving to them that it was not for this that He led them about with Him. For how could He when He used such expressions even to them? But why did He not praise them? Why did He not approve them? Both because He preserved the dignity befitting a teacher, and also to show them that they ought rather to be attracted by this mode of dealing. For had He praised them, they might, supposing that they were doing Him a favor, have had some human feeling; but by showing them that He needed not their attendance, He kept them to Him the more. And observe with what prudence He spoke. He said not, Depart ye, (this would have been to thrust them from Him,) but asked them a question, Will ye also go away? the expression of one who would remove all force or compulsion, and who wished not that they should be attached to Him through any sense of shame, but with a sense of favor. By not openly accusing, but gently glancing at them, He shows what is the truly wise course under such circumstances. But we feel differently; with good reason, since we do everything holding fast our own honor, and therefore think that our estate is lowered by the departure of those who attend on us. But He neither flattered nor repulsed them, but asked them a question. Now this was not the act of one despising them, but of one wishing them not to be restrained by force and compulsion: for to remain on such terms is the same as to depart. What then says Peter?

John 6:68–69

To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Do you see that it was not the words that caused offense, but the heedlessness, and sloth, and wrong-mindedness of the hearers? For even had He not spoken, they would have been offended, and would not have ceased to be ever anxious about bodily food, ever nailed to earth. Besides, the disciples heard at the same time with the others, yet they declared an opinion contrary to theirs, saying, To whom shall we go? An expression indicating much affection, for it shows that their Teacher was more precious to them than anything, than father or mother, or any possessions, and that if they withdrew from Him, they had not then whither to flee. Then lest it should seem that he had said, to whom shall we go? because there were none that would receive them, he straightway added, You have the words of eternal life. For the Jews listened carnally, and with human reasonings, but the disciples spiritually, and committing all to faith. Wherefore Christ said, The words which I have spoken unto you are spirit; that is, do not suppose that the teaching of My words is subject to the rule of material consequences, or to the necessity of created things. Things spiritual are not of this nature, nor endure to submit to the laws of earth. This also Paul declares, saying, Say not in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down;) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) Romans 10:6–7

You have the words of eternal life. These men already admitted the Resurrection, and all the apportionment which shall be there. And observe the brotherly and affectionate man, how he makes answer for all the band. For he said not, I know, but, We know. Or rather, observe how he goes to the very words of his Teacher, not speaking as did the Jews. They said, This is the son of Joseph; but he said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God; and You have the words of eternal life; having perhaps heard Him say, He that believes in Me has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For he showed that he retained all that had been said, by recalling the very words. What then did Christ? He neither praised nor expressed admiration of Peter, though He had elsewhere done so; but what says He?

John 6:70

Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

For since Peter said, We believe, Jesus excepts Judas from the band. In the other place Peter made no mention of the disciples; but when Christ said, Whom say ye that I am? he replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God Matthew 16:15; but here, since he said, We believe, Christ with reason admits not Judas into that band. And this He did afar off, and long before the time, to check the wickedness of the traitor, knowing that He should avail nothing, yet doing His own part.

4. And remark His wisdom. He made not the traitor manifest, yet allowed him not to be hidden; that on the one hand he might not lose all shame, and become more contentious; and on the other, that he might not, thinking to be unperceived, work his wicked deed without fear. Therefore by degrees He brings plainer reproofs against him. First, He numbered him too among the others, when He said, There are some of you that believe not, (for that He counted the traitor the Evangelist has declared, saying, For He knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him;) but when he yet remained such, He brought against him a more severe rebuke, One of you is a devil, yet made the fear common to them all, wishing to conceal him. And here it is worth while to enquire, why the disciples at this time said nothing, but afterwards were afraid and doubted, looking one upon another, and asking, Lord, is it I? Matthew 26:22, when Peter beckoned to John to find out the traitor, by enquiring of their Teacher which was he. What is the reason? Peter had not yet heard, Get behind me, Satan, wherefore he had no fear at all; but when he had been rebuked, and though he spoke through strong affection, instead of being approved of, had even been called Satan, he afterwards with reason feared when he heard, One of you shall betray Me. Besides, He says not even now, One of you shall betray Me, but, One of you is a devil; wherefore they understood not what was spoken, but thought that He was only reflecting upon their wickedness.

But wherefore said He, I have chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? It was to show that His teaching was entirely free from flattery. For that they might not think that He would flatter them, because when all had left Him they alone remained, and confessed by Peter that He was the Christ, He leads them away from such a suspicion. And what He says is of this kind. Nothing abashes Me from rebuking the bad; think not that because you have remained I shall choose to flatter you, or that because you have followed Me I shall not rebuke the wicked. For neither does another circumstance abash Me, which is much more powerful than this to abash a teacher. For he that remains affords a proof of his affection, while one that has been chosen by a teacher, being rejected, attaches to him a character for folly among senseless persons. Still neither does this cause Me to refrain from My reproofs. This at least even now the heathen frigidly and senselessly urge against Christ. For God is not wont to make men good by compulsion and force, neither is His election and choice compulsory on those who are called, but persuasive. And that you мая learn that the calling compels not, consider how many of these who have been called have come to perdition, so that it is clear that it lies in our own will also to be saved, or to perish.

5. Hearing therefore these things, learn we always to be sober and to watch. For if when he who was reckoned among that holy band, who had enjoyed so great a gift, who had wrought miracles, (for he too was with the others who were sent to raise the dead and to heal lepers,) if when he was seized by the dreadful disease of covetousness, and betrayed his Master, neither the favors, nor the gifts, nor the being with Christ, nor the attendance on Him, nor the washing the feet, nor the sharing His table, nor the bearing the bag, availed him, if these things rather served to help on his punishment, let us also fear lest we ever through covetousness imitate Judas. Thou betrayest not Christ. But when you neglect the poor man wasting with hunger, or perishing with cold, that man draws upon you the same condemnation. When we partake of the Mysteries unworthily, we perish equally with the Christ-slayers. When we plunder, when we oppress those weaker than ourselves, we shall draw down upon us severest punishment. And with reason; for how long shall the love of things present so occupy us, superfluous as they are and unprofitable? Since wealth consists in superfluities, in which no advantage is. How long shall we be nailed to vanities? How long shall we not look through and away into heaven, not be sober, not be satiated with these fleeting things of earth, not learn by experience their worthlessness? Let us think of those who before us have been wealthy; are not all those things a dream? Are they not a shadow, a flower? Are they not a stream which flows by? A story and a tale? Such a man has been rich, and where now is his wealth? It has gone, has perished, but the sins done by reason of it stay by him, and the punishment which is because of the sins. Yea, surely if there were no punishment, if no kingdom were set before us, it were a duty to show regard for those of like descent and family, to respect those who have like feelings with ourselves. But now we feed dogs, and many of us wild asses, and bears, and different beasts, while we care not for a man perishing with hunger; and a thing alien to us is more valued than that which is of our kin, and our own family less honored than creatures which are not so, nor related to us.

Is it a fine thing to build one's self splendid houses, to have many servants, to lie and gaze at a gilded roof? Why then, assuredly, it is superfluous and unprofitable. For other buildings there are, far brighter and more majestic than these; on such we must gladden our eyes, for there is none to hinder us. Will you see the fairest of roofs? At eventide look upon the starred heaven. But, says some one, this roof is not mine. Yet in truth this is more yours than that other. For you it was made, and is common to you and to your brethren; the other is not yours, but theirs who after your death inherit it. The one мая do you the greatest service, guiding you by its beauty to its Creator; the other the greatest harm, becoming your greatest accuser at the Day of Judgment, inasmuch as it is covered with gold, while Christ has not even needful raiment. Let us not, I entreat you, be subject to such folly, let us not pursue things which flee away, and flee those which endure; let us not betray our own salvation, but hold fast to our hope of what shall be hereafter; the aged, as certainly knowing that but a little space of life is left us; the young, as well persuaded that what is left is not much. For that day comes so as a thief in the night. Knowing this, let wives exhort their husbands, and husbands admonish their wives; let us teach youths and maidens, and all instruct one another, to care not for present things, but to desire those which are to come, that we мая be able also to obtain them; through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 48 on the Gospel of John

John 7:1–2

After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.

1. Nothing is worse than envy and malice; through these death entered into the world. For when the devil saw man honored, he endured not his prosperity, but used every means to destroy him. Wisdom 2:24 And from the same root one мая everywhere see this same fruit produced. Thus Abel was slain; thus David, with many other just men, was like to have been so; from this also the Jews became Christ-slayers. And declaring this the Evangelist said, After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He had not power to walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him. What do you say, O blessed John? Had not He power, who was able to do all that He would? He that said, Whom do you seek? John 18:6 and cast them backward? He who was present, yet not seen John 21:4, had not He power? How then afterwards did He come among them in the midst of the temple, in the midst of the feast, when there was an assembly, when they that longed for murder were present, and utter those sayings which enraged them yet the more? Yea, this at least men marveled at, saying, Is not this He, whom they seek to kill? And, lo, He speaks boldly, and they say nothing unto Him. Ver. 25, 26 What mean these riddles? Away with the word! The Evangelist spoke not so that he might be supposed to utter riddles, but to make it plain that He shows proofs both of His Godhead and His Manhood. For when he says, that He had not power, he speaks of Him as a man, doing many things after the manner of men; but when he says, that He stood in the midst of them, and they seized Him not, he shows to us the power of the Godhead, (as man He fled, as God He appeared,) and in both cases he speaks truly. To be in the midst of those who were plotting against Him, and yet not be seized by them, showed His unrivaled and irresistible nature; to yield strengthened and authenticated the Dispensation, that neither Paul of Samosata, nor Marcion, nor those affected with their maladies, might have anything to say. By this then he stops all their mouths.

After these things was the Jews' feast of tabernacles. The words, after these things, mean only, that the writer has here been concise, and has passed over a long interval of time, as is clear from this circumstance. When Christ sat on the mountain, he says, that it was the feast of the Passover; while here the writer mentions the feast of tabernacles, and during the five months has neither related or taught us anything else, except the miracle of the loaves, and the sermon made to those who ate them. Yet He ceased not to work miracles, and to converse, both in the day, and in the evening, and oftentimes at night; at least, it was thus that He presided over His disciples, as all the Evangelists tell us. Why then have they omitted that interval? Because it was impossible to recount everything fully, and moreover, because they were anxious to mention those points which were followed by any fault-finding or gainsaying of the Jews. There were many circumstances like those which here are omitted; for that He raised the dead, healed the sick, and was admired, they have frequently recorded; but when they have anything uncommon to tell, when they have to describe any charge seemingly put forth against Him, these things they set down; such as this now, that His brethren believed Him not. For a circumstance like this brings with it no slight suspicion, and it is worth our while to admire their truth-loving disposition, how they are not ashamed to relate things which seem to bring disgrace upon their Teacher, but have been even more anxious to report these than other matters. For instance, the writer having passed by many signs and wonders and sermons, has sprung at once to this.

John 7:3–5

For, says he, His brethren said to Him, Depart hence, and go into Judæa, that Your disciples also мая see the works that You do; for there is no man that does anything in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly. Show yourself to the world. For neither did His brethren believe in Him.

2. What unbelief, says some one, is here? They exhort Him to work miracles. It is great deed; for of unbelief come their words, and their insolence, and their unseasonable freedom of speech. For they thought, that owing to their relationship, it was lawful for them to address Him boldly. And their request seems forsooth to be that of friends, but the words were those of great maliciousness. For in this place they reproach Him with cowardice and vainglory: since to say, no man does anything in secret, is the expression of persons charging Him with cowardice, and suspecting the things done by Him as being not really done; and to add, that he seeks to be known, was to accuse Him of vainglory. But observe, I pray you, the power of Christ. Of those who said these things, one became first Bishop of Jerusalem, the blessed James, of whom Paul says, Other of the Apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord's brother ; and Judas also is said to have been a marvelous man. And yet these persons had been present also at Cana, when the wine was made, but as yet they profited nothing. Whence then had they so great unbelief? From their evil mind, and from envy; for superiority among kindred is wont somehow to be envied by such as are not alike exalted. But who are those that they call disciples here? The crowd that followed Him, not the twelve. What then says Christ? Observe how mildly He answered; He said not, Who are you that counsel and instruct Me thus? but,

John 7:6

My time is not yet come.

He here seems to me to hint at something other than He expresses; perhaps in their envy they designed to deliver Him up to the Jews; and pointing out this to them, He says, My time is not yet come, that is, the time of the Cross and the Death, why then hasten ye to slay Me before the time?

But your time is always ready.

As though He had said, Though you be ever with the Jews, they will not slay you who desire the same things with them; but Me they will straightway wish to kill. So that it is ever your time to be with them without danger, but My time is when the season of the Cross is at hand, when I must die. For that this was His meaning, He showed by what followed.

John 7:7

The world cannot hate you; (how should it hate those who desire, and who run for the same objects as itself?) but Me it hates, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

That is, because I upbraid and rebuke it, therefore I am hated. From this let us learn to master our anger, and not to give way to unworthy passion, though they be mean men who give us counsel. For if Christ meekly bore with unbelievers counseling Him, when their counsel was improper and not from any good intention, what pardon shall we obtain, who being but dust and ashes, yet are annoyed with those who counsel us, and deem that we are unworthily treated, although the persons who do this мая be but a little humbler than ourselves? Observe in this instance how He repels their accusation with all gentleness; for when they say, Show Yourself to the world, He replies, The world cannot hate you, but Me the world hates; thus removing their accusation. So far, He says, am I from seeking honor from men, that I cease not to reprove them, and this when I know that by this course hatred is produced against and death prepared for Me. And where, asks some one, did He rebuke men? When did He ever cease to do so? Did He not say, Think not that I will accuse you to the Father? There is one that accuses you, even Moses. John 5:45 And again; I know you, that you have not the love of God in you: and How can you believe, who receive honor from men, and seek not the honor that comes from God only? Do you see how He has everywhere shown, that it was the open rebuke, not the violation of the Sabbath, which caused the hatred against Him?

And wherefore does He send them to the feast, saying,

John 7:8

Go up to the feast: I go not up yet.

To show that He said these things not as needing them, or desiring to be flattered by them, but permitting them to do what pertained to Jews. How then, says some one, went He up after saying, 'I go not up'? He said not, once for all, I go not up, but, now, that is, not with you.

For My time is not yet fulfilled.

And yet He was about to be crucified at the coming Passover. How then went He not up also? For if He went not up because the time was not yet come, He ought not to have gone up at all. But He went not up for this purpose, that He might suffer, but that He might instruct them. But wherefore secretly? Since He might by going openly both have been amidst them, and have restrained their unruly impulses as He often did. It was because He would not do this continually. Since had He gone up openly, and again blinded them, He would have made His Godhead to shine through in a greater degree, which at present behooved not, but He rather concealed it. And since they thought that His remaining was from cowardice, He shows them the contrary, and that it was from confidence, and a dispensation, and that knowing beforehand the time when He should suffer, He would, when it should at length be at hand, be most desirous of going up to Jerusalem. And methinks by saying, Go up, He meant, Think not that I compel you to stay with Me against your will, and this addition of, My time is not yet fully come, is the expression of one declaring that miracles must be wrought and sermons spoken, so that greater multitudes might believe, and the disciples be made more steadfast by seeing the boldness and the sufferings of their Master.

3. Learn we then, from what has been said, His kindness and gentleness; Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart Matthew 11:29; and let us cast away all bitterness. If any exalt himself against us, let us be humble; if any be bold, let us wait upon him; if any bite and devour us with mocks and jests, let us not be overcome; lest in defending ourselves we destroy ourselves. For wrath is a wild beast, a wild beast keen and angry. Let us then repeat to ourselves soothing charms drawn from the holy Scripture, and say, You are earth and ashes. Why is earth and ashes proud? Sirach 10:9, and, The sway of his fury shall be his destruction Sirach 1:22: and, The wrathful man is not comely Proverbs 11:25, Septuagint; for there is nothing more shameful, nothing uglier than a visage inflamed with anger. As when you stir up mud there is an ill savor, so when a soul is disturbed by passion there is great indecency and unpleasantness. But, says some one, I endure not insult from mine enemies. Wherefore? Tell me. If the charge be true, then you ought, even before the affront, to have been pricked at heart, and thank your enemy for his rebukes; if it be false, despise it. He has called you poor, laugh at him; he has called you base-born and foolish, then mourn for him; for He that says to his brother, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22 Whenever therefore one insults you, consider the punishment that he undergoes; then shall you not only not be angry, but shall even shed tears for him. For no man is angry with one in a fever or inflammation, but pities and weeps for all such; and such a thing is a soul that is angry. Nay, if even thou desire to avenge yourself, hold your peace, and you have dealt your enemy a mortal blow; while if you add reviling to reviling, you have kindled a fire. But, says some one, the bystanders accuse us of weakness if we hold our peace. No, they will not condemn your weakness, but admire you for your wisdom. Moreover, if you are stung by insolence, you become insolent; and being stung, compel men to think that what has been said of you is true. Wherefore, tell me, does a rich man laugh when he is called poor? Is it not because he is conscious that he is not poor? If therefore we will laugh at insults, we shall afford the strongest proof that we are not conscious of the faults alleged. Besides, how long are we to dread the accounts we render to men? How long are we to despise our common Lord, and be nailed to the flesh? For whereas there is among you strife, and envying, and divisions, are you not carnal? 1Corinthians 3:3 Let us then become spiritual, and bridle this dreadful wild beast. Anger differs nothing from madness, it is a temporary devil, or rather it is a thing worse than having a devil; for one that has a devil мая be excused, but the angry man deserves ten thousand punishments, voluntarily casting himself into the pit of destruction, and before the hell which is to come suffering punishment from this already, by bringing a certain restless turmoil and never silent storm of fury, through all the night and through all the day, upon the reasonings of his soul. Let us therefore, that we мая deliver ourselves from the punishment here and the vengeance hereafter, cast out this passion, and show forth all meekness and gentleness, that we мая find rest for our souls both here and in the Kingdom of Heaven. To which мая we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 49 on the Gospel of John

John 7:9–10

When He had said these words unto them, He abode still in Galilee. But when His brethren had gone up, then went He up also unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

1. The things done by Christ after the manner of men, are not so done only to establish the Incarnation, but also to educate us for virtue. For had He done all as God, how could we have known, on falling in with such things as we wished not, what we must do? As, for instance, when He was in this very place, and the Jews would have killed Him, He came into the midst of them, and so appeased the tumult. Now had He done this continually, how should we, not being able to do so, and yet falling into the like case, have known in what way we ought to deal with the matter, whether to perish at once, or even to use some contrivance in order that the word might go forward? Since, therefore, we who have no power could not have understood what to do on coming into the midst of our foes, on this account we are taught this very thing by Him. For, says the Evangelist, Jesus, when He had said these words, abode in Galilee; but when His brethren had gone up, then went He up also unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. The expression, when His brethren had gone up, is that of one showing that He chose not to go up with them. On which account He abode where He was, and manifested not Himself, although they in a manner urged Him to do so. But why did He, who ever spoke openly, do so now as it were in secret? The writer says not secretly, but, as it were in secret. For thus, as I have said, He seemed to be instructing us how to manage matters. And, apart from this, it was not the same to come among them when heated and restive, as to do so afterwards when the feast was ended.

John 7:11

Then the Jews sought Him, and said, Where is He?

Excellent truly the good deeds at their feasts! They are eager for murder, and wish to seize Him, even during the feast. At least, in another place they speak thus, Think ye that He will not come to the feast? John 11:56; and here they said, Where is He? Through their excessive hatred and enmity they would not even call Him by name. Great was their reverence towards the feast, great their caution. By occasion of the very feast they wished to entrap Him!

John 7:12

And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him.

I think they were exasperated by the place where the miracle had been wrought, and were greatly infuriated and afraid, not so much from anger at what had gone before, as from fear lest He should again work something similar. But all fell out contrary to what they desired, and against their will they rendered Him conspicuous.

And some said, He is a good man; others said, Nay, but He deceives the people.

Methinks the first of these opinions was that of the many, the other that of the rulers and priests. For to slander Him suited their malice and wickedness. He deceives, say they, the people. How, tell me? Was it by seeming to work, not really working miracles? But experience witnesses the contrary.

John 7:13

Howbeit no man spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

Do you see everywhere the ruling body corrupted, and the ruled sound indeed in judgment, but not having that proper courage which a multitude especially lacks?

John 7:14

Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up and taught.

By the delay He made them more attentive; for they who had sought Him on the first days and said, Where is He? when they saw Him suddenly present, observe how they drew near, and were like to press upon Him as He was speaking, both those who said that He was a good man, and those who said that He was not such; the former so as to profit by and admire Him, the latter to lay hold on and detain Him. One party then said, He deceives the people, by reason of the teaching and the doctrines, not understanding His meaning; the other on account of the miracles said, He is a good man. He therefore thus came among them when He had slackened their anger, so that they might hear His words at leisure, when passion no longer stopped their ears. What He taught, the Evangelist has not told us; that He taught marvelously, this only he says, and that He won and brought them over. Such was the power of His speech. And they who had said, He deceives the people, altered their opinion, and marveled. Wherefore also they said,

John 7:15

How knows this man letters, having never learned?

Do you observe how the Evangelist shows here also their marveling to be full of wickedness? For he says not, that they admired the teaching, or that they received the words, but simply that they marveled. That is, were thrown into a state of astonishment, and doubted, saying, Whence has this man these things? When they ought from this very difficulty to have known that there was nothing merely human in Him. But because they would not confess this, but stopped at wondering only, hear what He says.

John 7:16

My doctrine is not Mine.

Again He answers to their secret thoughts, referring them to the Father, and so desiring to stop their mouths.

John 7:17

If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.

What He says is this, Cast out from yourselves the malice and wrath and envy and hatred which has without cause been conceived against Me, then there is nothing to hinder you from knowing that My words are indeed the words of God. For at present these things cast a darkness over you, and destroy the light of right judgment, while if you remove them this shall no longer be your case. Yet He spoke not (plainly) thus, (for so He would have confounded them exceedingly,) but implied it all by saying, He that does His will shall know of the doctrine, whether it is of God, or whether I speak of Myself; that is, whether I speak anything different and strange and contrary to God. For, of Myself is always put with this meaning, that I say nothing except what seems good to Him, but all that the Father wills, I will also.

If any man do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.

What means, If any man do His will? If any man be a lover of the life which is according to virtue, he shall know the power of the sayings. If any man will give heed to the prophecies, to see whether I speak according to them or not.

2. But how is the doctrine His and not His? For He said not, This doctrine is not Mine; but having first said, it is Mine, and having claimed it as His own, He then added, it is not Mine. How then can the same thing be both His and not His? It is His, because He spoke it not as one who had been taught; and it is not His, because it was the doctrine of the Father. How then says He, All that is the Father's is Mine, and Mine His? John 17:10 For if because the doctrine is the Father's, it is not yours, that other assertion is false, for according to that it ought to be yours. But the is not Mine, affords a strong proof that His doctrine and the Father's are one; as if He had said, It has nothing different, as though it were another's. For though My Person be different, yet so do I speak and do as not to be supposed to speak or do anything contrary to the Father, but rather the very same things that the Father says and does. Then He adds another incontrovertible argument, bringing forward something merely human, and instructing them by things to which they were accustomed. And what is that?

John 7:18

He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory.

That is, He that desires to establish any doctrine of his own, desires to do so only that he himself мая enjoy the glory. Now if I desire not to enjoy glory, wherefore should I desire to establish any doctrine of My own? He that speaks of himself, that is, who speaks anything peculiar or different from others, speaks on this account, that he мая establish his own glory; but if I seek the glory of Him that sent Me, wherefore should I choose to teach other things? Do you see that there was a cause wherefore He said there too that He did nothing of Himself? c. v. 19, and 8:28 What was it? It was that they might believe that He desired not the honor of the many. Therefore when His words are lowly, I seek, He says, the glory of the Father, everywhere desiring to persuade them that He Himself loves not glory. Now there are many reasons for His using lowly words, as that He might not be deemed unbegotten, or opposed to God, His being clothed with flesh, the infirmity of His hearers, that He might teach men to be modest, and to speak no great thing of themselves: while for speaking lofty words one could only find one reason, the greatness of His Nature. And if when He said, Before Abraham was, I am John 8:58, they were offended, what would have been their case if they had continually heard high expressions?

John 7:19

Did not Moses give you the Law? And yet none of you keeps the Law? Why go ye about to kill Me?

And what connection, says some one, has this, or what has this to do with what was said before? The Jews brought against Him two accusations; one, that He broke the Sabbath; the other, that He called God His Father, making Himself equal with God. And that this was no imagination of theirs, but His own declared judgment, and that He spoke not as do the many, but in a special and peculiar sense, is clear from this circumstance. Many often called God their Father; as Have we not all one Father, has not one God created us? Malachi 2:10, but not for that was the people equal to God, on which account the hearers were not offended. As then when the Jews said, This man is not from God, He often healed them, and made defense for the violation of the Sabbath; so now had the sense they assigned to His words been according to their imagination, not according to His intention, He would have corrected them, and said, Why suppose ye Me equal to God? I am not equal; yet He said nothing of the kind, but, on the contrary, declared by what followed, that He is equal. For, As the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them, so also the Son John 5:21; and That all мая honor the Son as they honor the Father; and The works which He does, the same does the Son likewise; all these go to establish His equality. Again, concerning the Law He says, Think not that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. Matthew 5:17 Thus He knows how to remove evil suspicions which are in their minds; but in this place He not only does not remove, but even confirms their suspicion of His equality. On which account also, when they said in another place, You make yourself God, He did not remove their suspicion, but even confirmed it, saying, That ye мая know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, He says to the sick of the palsy, Take up your bed, and walk. Matthew 9:6 This then He first aimed at, to make Himself equal with God, showing that He was not God's adversary, but that He said the same and taught the same with Him, and afterwards He sets Himself to the breach of the Sabbath, saying, Did not Moses give you the Law, and none of you keeps the Law? As though He had said, The Law says, You shall not kill; but you kill, and yet accuse Me as transgressing the Law. But wherefore says He, None of you? Because they all sought to kill Him. And if, He says, I even have broken the Law, it was in saving a man, but you transgress it for evil. And if My action was even a transgression, yet it was in order to save, and I ought not to be judged by you who transgress in the greatest matters. For your conduct is a subverting of the whole Law. Then also He presses it farther, although He had said many things to them before, but at that former time He spoke after a loftier manner, and more suitably to His own dignity, while now He speaks more humbly. Wherefore? Because He would not continually irritate them. At present their anger had become intense, and they went on to murder. And therefore He continues to check them in these two ways, by reproving their evil daring, and saying, Why go ye about to kill Me? and by modestly calling Himself, A Man that has told you the truth John 8:40, and by showing that murderers in heart are not worthy to judge others. And observe both the humility of Christ's question, and the insolence of their answer.

John 7:20

You have a devil; who goes about to kill you?

3. The expression is one of wrath and anger, and of a soul made shameless by an unexpected reproof, and put to confusion before their time, as they thought. For just as a sort of robbers who sing over their plots, then when they desire to put him against whom they are plotting off his guard, effect their object by keeping silence, so also do these. But He, omitting to rebuke them for this, so as not to make them more shameless, again takes in hand His defense with respect to the Sabbath, reasoning with them from the Law. And observe how prudently. No wonder, He says, if you disobey Me, when you disobey the Law which you think ye obey, and which you hold to have been given you by Moses. It is therefore no new thing, if you give not heed to My words. For because they said, God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow we know not whence he is John 9:29, He shows that they were insulting Moses as well as Himself, for Moses gave them the Law, and they obeyed it not.

John 7:21

I have done one work, and you all marvel.

Observe how He argues, where it is necessary to defend Himself, and make His defense a charge against them. For with respect to that which had been wrought, He introduces not the Person of the Father, but His own: I have done one work. He would show, that not to have done it would have been to break the Law, and that there are many things more authoritative than the Law, and that Moses endured to receive a command against the Law, and more authoritative than the Law. For circumcision is more authoritative than the Sabbath, and yet circumcision is not of the Law, but of the fathers. But I, He says, have done that which is more authoritative and better than circumcision. Then He mentions not the command of the Law; for instance, that the Priests profane the Sabbath, as He had said already, but speaks more largely. The meaning of, You marvel Matthew 12:5 is, You are confused, are troubled. For if the Law was to be lasting, circumcision would not have been more authoritative than it. And He said not, I have done a thing greater than circumcision, but abundantly refutes them by saying,

John 7:23

If a man receive circumcision.

Do you see that the Law is most established when a man breaks it? Do you see that the breaking of the Sabbath is the keeping of the Law? That if the Sabbath were not broken, the Law must needs have been broken? So that I also have established the Law. He said not, You are angry with Me because I have wrought a thing which is greater than circumcision, but having merely mentioned what had been done, He left it to them to judge, whether entire health was not a more necessary thing than circumcision. The Law, He says, is broken, that a man мая receive a sign which contributes nothing to health; are you vexed and indignant at its being broken, that one might be freed from so grievous a disease?

John 7:24

Judge not according to appearance.

What is, according to appearance? Do not, since Moses has the greatest honor among you, give your decision according to your estimation of persons, but according to the nature of things; for this is to judge rightly. Wherefore has no one of you reproved Moses? Wherefore has no one disobeyed him when he orders that the Sabbath be broken by a commandment introduced from without into the Law? He allows a commandment to be of more authority than his own Law; a commandment not introduced by the Law, but from without, which is especially wonderful; while you who are not lawgivers are beyond measure jealous for the Law, and defend it. Yet Moses, who orders that the Law be broken by a commandment which is not of the Law, is more worthy of confidence than you. By saying then, (I have made) a whole man (healthy), He shows that circumcision also was partial health. And what was the health procured by circumcision? Every soul, It says, that is not circumcised, shall be utterly destroyed. Genesis 17:14 But I have raised up a man not partially afflicted, but wholly undone. Judge not, therefore, according to appearance.

Be we persuaded that this is said not merely to the men of that time, but to us also, that in nothing we pervert justice, but do all in its behalf; that whether a man be poor or rich, we give no heed to persons, but enquire into things. You shall not pity, It says, the poor in judgment. Exodus 23:3 What is meant? Be not broken down, nor bent, It says, if he that does the wrong be a poor man. Now if you мая not favor a poor man, much less a rich. And this I say not only to you who are judges, but to all men, that they nowhere pervert justice, but preserve it everywhere pure. The Lord, It says, loves righteousness; and, he that loves iniquity hates his own soul. Psalm 11:7, Septuagint Let us not, I entreat, hate our own souls, nor love unrighteousness. For certainly its profit in the present world is little or nothing, and for the world to come it brings great damage. Or rather, I should say, that not even here can we enjoy it; for when we live softly, yet with an evil conscience, is not this vengeance and punishment? Let us then love righteousness, and never look aside from that law. For what fruit shall we gain from the present life, if we depart without having attained unto excellence? What there will help us? Will friendship, or relations, or this or that man's favor? What am I saying? This or that man's favor? Though we have Noah, Job, or Daniel for a father, this will avail us nothing if we be betrayed by our own works. One thing alone we need, that is, excellency of soul. This will be able to carry you safe through, and to deliver you from everlasting fire, this will escort you to the Kingdom of Heaven. To which мая we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 50 on the Gospel of John

John 7:25–27

Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaks boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is.

1. Nothing is placed in the Holy Scriptures without a reason, for they were uttered by the Holy Ghost, therefore let us enquire exactly into every point. For it is possible from one expression to find out the entire meaning (of a passage), as in the case before us. Many of them of Jerusalem said, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaks boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Now why is added, them of Jerusalem? The Evangelist by this shows, that they who had most enjoyed His mighty miracles were more pitiable than any; they who had beheld the greatest proof of His Godhead, and yet committed all to the judgment of their corrupt rulers. For was it not a great proof of it, that men furious and bent on murder, who went about and sought to kill Him, should be quiet of a sudden, when they had Him in their hands? Who could have effected this? Who thus quenched their absolute fury? Still after such proofs, observe the folly and the madness of the men. Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? See how they accuse themselves; whom, It says, they seek to kill, and yet they say nothing to him. And not only do they say nothing to Him, but nothing even when He speaks boldly. For one who spoke boldly and with all freedom would naturally have the more angered them; but they did nothing. Do they know indeed that this is the very Christ? What do you think? What opinion do you give? The contrary, It says. On which account they said, We know this man whence he is. What malice, what contradiction! They do not even follow the opinion of their rulers, but bring forward another, perverse, and worthy of their own folly; We know him whence he is.

But when Christ comes, no man knows whence He is. Matthew 2:4

Yet your rulers when asked replied, that He should be born in Bethlehem. And others again said, God spoke unto Moses, but as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. John 9:29 We know whence he is, and we know not whence He is; observe the words of drunken men. And again, Does Christ come out of Galilee? John 7:41 Is He not of the town of Bethlehem? Do you see that theirs is the decision of madmen? We know, and, we know not; Christ comes from Bethlehem; When Christ comes, no man knows whence He is. What can be plainer than this contradiction? For they only looked to one thing, which was, not to believe. What then is Christ's reply?

John 7:28

You both know Me, and you know whence I am: and I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, whom you know not.

2. And again, If you had known Me, you should have known My Father also. John 8:19 How then says He, that they both know Him, and whence He is, and then, that they neither know Him, nor the Father? He does not contradict, (away with the thought,) but is very consistent with Himself. For He speaks of a different kind of knowledge, when He says, ye know not; as when He says, The sons of Eli were wicked sons, they knew not the Lord 1 Samuel 2:12; and again, Israel does not know Me. Isaiah 1:3 So also Paul says, They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him. Titus 1:16 It is therefore possible, knowing, not to know. This then is what He says: If you know Me, you know that I am the Son of God. For the whence I am does not here denote place. As is clear from what follows, I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, whom you know not, referring here to the ignorance shown by their works. [As Paul says, They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him.] For their fault came not merely of ignorance, but of wickedness, and an evil will; because even though they knew this, they chose to be ignorant. But what manner of connection is there here? How is it that He, reproving them, uses their own words? For when they say, We know this man whence he is, He adds, ye both know Me. Was their expression, We know him not? Nay, they said, We know him. But (observe), they by saying the, We know whence he is, declared nothing else than that He was of the earth, and that He was the carpenter's son; but He led them up to heaven, saying, You know whence I am, that is, not thence whence ye suppose, but from that place whence He that sent Me (has sent Me). For to say, I am not come of Myself, intimates to them, that they knew that He was sent by the Father, though they did not disclose it. So that He rebukes them in a twofold manner; first, what they said in secret He published aloud, so as to put them to shame; after that He revealed also what was in their hearts. As though He had said, I am not one of the abjects, nor of those who come for nothing, but He 'that sent Me is true, whom you know not.' What means, He that sent Me is true? If He be true, He has sent Me for the truth; if He be true, it is probable that He who is sent is true also. This also He proves in another way, vanquishing them with their own words. For whereas they had said, When Christ comes, no man knows whence He is, He proves from this that He Himself is the Christ. They used the words, No man knows, with reference to distinction of some definite locality; but from the same words He shows Himself to be the Christ, because He came from the Father; and everywhere He witnesses that He alone has the knowledge of the Father, saying, Not that any man has seen the Father, save He which is from the Father. John 6:46 And His words exasperated them; for to tell them, You know Him not, and to rebuke them because knowing they pretended to be ignorant, was sufficient to sting and annoy them.

John 7:30

Then they sought to take Him, and no man laid his hand upon Him, because His hour was not yet come.

Do you see that they are invisibly restrained, and their anger bridled? But wherefore says It not, that He had restrained them invisibly, but, Because His hour was not yet come? The Evangelist was minded to speak more humanly and in a lowlier strain, so that Christ might be deemed to be also Man. For because Christ everywhere speaks of sublime matters, he therefore intersperses expressions of this kind. And when Christ says, I am from Him, He speaks not as a Prophet who learns, but as seeing Him, and being with Him.

John 7:29

I know Him, for I am from Him, and He has sent Me.

Do you see how He continually seeks to prove the, I am not come of Myself, and, He that sent Me is true, striving not to be thought an enemy of God? And observe how great is the profit of the humility of His words; for, it says, after this many said,

John 7:31

When Christ comes, will He do more miracles than these which this man has done?

How many were the miracles? In truth, there were three, that of the wine, that of the paralytic, and that of the nobleman's son; and the Evangelist has related no more. From which circumstance it is plain, as I have often said, that the writers pass by most of them, and discourse to us of those alone on account of which the rulers ill-treated Him. Then they sought to take Him, and kill Him. Who sought? Not the multitude, who had no desire of rule, nor could be made captives by malice; but the priests. For they of the multitude said, When Christ comes, will He do more miracles? Yet neither was this sound faith, but, as it were, the idea of a promiscuous crowd; for to say, When He comes, was not the expression of men firmly persuaded that He was the Christ. We мая either understand the words thus, or that they were uttered by the multitudes when they came together. Since, they мая have said, our rulers are taking every pains to prove that this man is not the Christ, let us suppose that he is not the Christ; will the Christ be better than he? For, as I ever repeat, men of the grosser sort are led in not by doctrine, nor by preaching, but by miracles.

John 7:32

The Pharisees heard the people murmuring, and sent servants to take Him.

Do you see that the violation of the Sabbath was a mere pretense? And that what most stung them was this murmuring? For here, though they had no fault to find with Him for anything said or done, they desired to take Him because of the multitude. They dared not do it themselves, suspecting danger, but sent their hired servants. Alas! For their tyranny and their madness, or rather, I should say, for their folly. After having often attempted themselves, and not prevailed, they committed the matter to servants, simply satisfying their anger. Yet He had spoken much at the pool John 5, and they had done nothing of the kind; they sought indeed occasion, but they attempted not, while here they can endure it no longer, when the multitude is about to run to Him. What then says Christ?

John 7:33

Yet a little while am I with you.

Having power to bow and terrify His hearers, He utters words full of humility. As though He had said, Why are you eager to persecute and kill Me? Wait a little while, and even though you should be eager to keep Me back, I shall not endure it. That no one should (as they did) suppose that the, Yet a little while am I with you, denoted a common death, that no one might suppose this, or that He wrought nothing after death, He added,

John 7:34

And where I am, there ye cannot come.

Now had He been about to continue in death, they might have gone to Him, for to that place we all depart. His words therefore bent the simpler portion of the multitude, terrified the bolder, made the more intelligent anxious to hear Him, since but little time was now left, and since it was not in their power always to enjoy this teaching. Nor did He merely say, I am here, but, I am with you, that is, Though you persecute, though ye drive Me away, yet for a little while I shall not cease dispensing what is for your good, saying and recommending the things that relate to your salvation.

John 7:33

And I go unto Him that sent Me.

This was enough to terrify and throw them into an agony. For that they should stand in need of Him, He declares also . . .

John 7:34

You shall seek Me, He says, (not only you shall not forget Me, but you shall even seek Me,) and shall not find Me.

3. And when did the Jews seek Him? Luke says that the women mourned over Him, and it is probable that many others, both at the time and when the city was taken, remembered Christ and His miracles, and sought His presence. Luke 23:49 Now all this He added, desiring to attract them. For the facts that the time left was short, that He should after His departure be regretfully desired by them, and that they should not then be able to find Him, were all together sufficient to persuade them to come to Him. For had it not been that His presence should with regret be desired by them, He would not have seemed to them to be saying any great thing; if, again, it was about to be desired, and they able to find Him, neither so would this have disturbed them. Again, had He been about to stay with them a long time, so also they would have been remiss. But now He in every way compels and terrifies them. And the, I go to Him that sent Me, is the expression of one declaring that no harm will happen to Him from their plotting, and that His Passion was voluntary. Wherefore now He uttered two predictions, that after a little while He should depart, and that they should not come to Him; a thing which belonged not to human intelligence, the foretelling His own death. Hear for instance, David saying, Lord, make me to know mine end and the number of my days, what it is, that I мая know what time I have. Psalm 39:4 There is no man at all that knows this; and by one the other is confirmed. And I think that He speaks this covertly to the servants, and directs His discourse to them, thus specially attracting them, by showing them that He knew the cause of their arrival. As though He had said, Wait a little, and I shall depart.

John 7:35

Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go?

Yet they who had wished to be rid of Him, who did all in their power not to see Him, ought not to have asked this question, but to have said, we are glad of it, when will the departure take place? but they were somewhat affected at His words, and with foolish suspicion question one another, whither will he go?

Will he go unto the dispersion of the Gentiles?

What is, the dispersion of the Gentiles? The Jews gave this name to other nations, because they were everywhere scattered and mingled fearlessly with one another. And this reproach they themselves afterwards endured, for they too were a dispersion. For of old all their nation was collected into one place, and you could not anywhere find a Jew, except in Palestine only; wherefore they called the Gentiles a dispersion, reproaching them, and boasting concerning themselves. What then means, Whither I go ye cannot come? For all nations at that time had intercourse with them, and there were Jews everywhere. He would not therefore, if He had meant the Gentiles, have said, Where ye cannot come. After saying, Will he go to the dispersion of the Gentiles? they did not add, and ruin, but, and teach them. To such a degree had they abated their anger, and believed His words; for they would not, had they not believed, have enquired among themselves what the saying was.

These words were spoken indeed to the Jews, but fear there is lest they be suited to us also, that where He is we cannot come on account of our life being full of sins. For concerning the disciples He says, I will that they also be with Me where I am John 17:24, but concerning ourselves, I dread lest the contrary be said, that, Where I am, you cannot come. For when we act contrary to the commandments, how can we go to that place? Even in the present life, if any soldier act unworthily towards his king, he will not be able to see the king, but being deprived of his authority will suffer the severest punishment; if therefore we steal, or covet, if we wrong or strike others, if we work not deeds of mercy, we shall not be able to go there, but shall suffer what happened to the virgins. For where He was, they were not able to enter in, but retired, their lamps having gone out, that is, grace having left them. For we can, if we will, increase the brightness of that flame which we received straightway by the grace of the Spirit; but if we will not do this, we shall lose it, and when that is quenched, there will be nothing else than darkness in our souls; since, as while a lamp is burning the light is strong, so when it is extinguished there is nothing but gloom. Wherefore the Apostle says, Quench not the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 And It is quenched when It has not oil, when there is any violent gust of wind, when It is cramped and confined, (for so fire is quenched,) and It is cramped by worldly cares, and quenched by evil desires. In addition to the causes we have mentioned, nothing quenches It so much as inhumanity, cruelty, and rapine. For when, besides having no oil, we pour upon it cold water, (for covetousness is this, which chills with despondency the souls of those we wrong,) whence shall it be kindled again? We shall depart, therefore, carrying dust and ashes with us, and having much smoke to convict us of having had lamps and of having extinguished them; for where there is smoke, there needs must have been fire which has been quenched. мая none of us ever hear that word, I know you not. Matthew 25:12 And whence shall we hear that word, but from this, if ever we see a poor man, and are as though we saw him not? If we will not know Christ when He is an hungered, He too will not know us when we entreat His mercy. And with justice; for how shall he who neglects the afflicted, and gives not of that which is his own, how shall he seek to receive of that which is not his own? Wherefore, I entreat you, let us do and contrive everything, so that oil fail not us, but that we мая trim our lamps, and enter with the Bridegroom into the bride-chamber. To which мая we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 51 on the Gospel of John

John 7:37–38

In the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

1. They who come to the divine preaching and give heed to the faith, must manifest the desire of thirsty men for water, and kindle in themselves a similar longing; so will they be able also very carefully to retain what is said. For as thirsty men, when they have taken a bowl, eagerly drain it and then desist, so too they who hear the divine oracles if they receive them thirsting, will never be weary until they have drunk them up. For to show that men ought ever to thirst and hunger, Blessed, It says, are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness Matthew 5:6; and here Christ says, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. What He says is of this kind, I draw no man to Me by necessity and constraint; but if any has great zeal, if any is inflamed with desire, him I call.

But why has the Evangelist remarked that it was on the last day, that great day? For both the first day and the last were great, while the intermediate days they spent rather in enjoyment. Wherefore then says he, in the last day? Because on that day they were all collected together. For on the first day He came not, and told the reason to His brethren, nor yet on the second and third days says He anything of this kind, lest His words should come to nought, the hearers being about to run into indulgence. But on the last day when they were returning home He gives them supplies for their salvation, and cries aloud, partly by this showing to us His boldness, and partly for the greatness of the multitude. And to show that He spoke not of material drink, He adds, He that believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. By belly he here means the heart, as also in another place It says, And Your Law in the midst of my belly. Psalm 40:10; Theodotion But where has the Scripture said, that rivers of living water shall flow from his belly? Nowhere. What then means, He that believes in Me, as the Scripture says? Here we must place a stop, so that the, rivers shall flow from his belly, мая be an assertion of Christ. For because many said, This is the Christ; and, When the Christ comes will He do more miracles? He shows that it behooves to have a correct knowledge, and to be convinced not so much from the miracles as from the Scriptures. Many, in fact, who even saw Him working marvels received Him not as Christ, and were ready to say, Do not the Scriptures say that Christ comes of the seed of David? and on this they continually dwelt. He then, desiring to show that He did not shun the proof from the Scriptures, again referrs them to the Scriptures. He had said before, Search the Scriptures John 5:39; and again, It is written in the Prophets, And they shall be taught of God John 6:45; and, Moses accuses you John 5:45; and here, As the Scripture has said, rivers shall flow from his belly, alluding to the largeness and abundance of grace. As in another place He says, A well of water springing up unto eternal life John 4:14, that is to say, he shall possess much grace; and elsewhere He calls it, eternal life, but here, living water. He calls that living which ever works; for the grace of the Spirit, when it has entered into the mind and has been established, springs up more than any fountain, fails not, becomes not empty, stays not. To signify therefore at once its unfailing supply and unlimited operation, He has called it a well and rivers, not one river but numberless; and in the former case He has represented its abundance by the expression, springing. And one мая clearly perceive what is meant, if he will consider the wisdom of Stephen, the tongue of Peter, the vehemence of Paul, how nothing bare, nothing withstood them, not the anger of multitudes, not the risings up of tyrants, not the plots of devils, not daily deaths, but as rivers borne along with a great rushing sound, so they went on their way hurrying all things with them.

John 7:39

But this spoke He of the Spirit, which they that believe in Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given.

2. How then did the Prophets prophesy and work those ten thousand wonders? For the Apostles cast not out devils by the Spirit, but by power received from Him; as He says Himself, If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Matthew 12:27 And this He said, signifying that before the Crucifixion not all cast out devils by the Spirit, but that some did so by the power received from Him. So when He was about to send them, He said, Receive the Holy Ghost John 20:22; and again, The Holy Ghost came upon them Acts 19:6, and then they wrought miracles. But when He was sending them, the Scripture said not, that He gave to them the Holy Ghost, but that He gave to them power, saying, Cleanse the lepers, cast out devils, raise the dead, freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:1–8 But in the case of the Prophets, all allow that the Gift was that of the Holy Spirit. But this Grace was stinted and departed and failed from off the earth, from the day in which it was said, Your house is left unto you desolate Matthew 23:38; and even before that day its dearth had begun, for there was no longer any prophet among them, nor did Grace visit their holy things. Since then the Holy Ghost had been withheld, but was for the future to be shed forth abundantly, and since the beginning of this imparting was after the Crucifixion, not only as to its abundance, but also as to the increased greatness of the gifts, (for the Gift was more marvelous, as when It says, You know not what Spirit you are of Luke 9:55; and again, For you have not received the Spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of adoption Romans 8:15; and the men of old possessed the Spirit themselves, but imparted It not to others, while the Apostles filled tens of thousands with It,) since then, I say, they were to receive this Gift, but It was not yet given, for this cause he adds, The Holy Ghost was not yet. Since then the Lord spoke of this grace, the Evangelist has said, For the Holy Ghost was not yet, that is, was not yet given,

Because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Calling the Cross, glory. For since we were enemies, and had sinned, and fallen short of the gift of God, and were haters of God, and since grace was a proof of our reconciliation, and since a gift is not given to those who are hated, but to friends and those who have been well-pleasing; it was therefore necessary that the Sacrifice should first be offered for us, that the enmity (against God) which was in our flesh should be done away, that we should become friends of God, and so receive the Gift. For if this was done with respect to the promise made to Abraham, much more with respect to grace. And this Paul has declared, saying, If they which are of the Law be heirs, faith is made void – because the Law works wrath. Romans 4:14–15 What he says, is of this kind: God promised that He would give the earth to Abraham and to his seed: but his descendants were unworthy of the promise, and of their own deeds could not be well-pleasing unto God. On this account came in faith, an easy action, that it might draw grace unto it, and that the promise might not fail. And It says,

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure. Romans 4:16 Wherefore it is by grace, since by their own labors they prevailed not.

But wherefore after saying, according to the Scriptures, did He not add the testimony? Because their mind was corrupt; for,

John 7:40–42

Some said, This is the Prophet. Others said, He deceives the people; others said, Christ comes not from Galilee, but from the village of Bethlehem.

Others said, When Christ comes, no man knows whence He is John 7:27; and there was a difference of opinion, as might be expected in a confused multitude; for not attentively did they listen to His words, nor for the sake of learning. Wherefore He makes them no answer; yet they said, Does Christ come out of Galilee? And He had praised, as being an Israelite indeed, Nathanael, who had said in a more forcible and striking manner, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? John 1:46 But then these men, and they who said to Nicodemus, Search and look, for out of Galilee arises no prophet John 7:52, said it not seeking to learn, but merely to overturn the opinion concerning Christ. Nathanael said this, being a lover of the truth, and knowing exactly all the ancient histories; but they looked only to one thing, and that was to remove the opinion that He was the Christ, on which account He revealed nothing to them. For they who even contradicted themselves, and said at one time, No man knows whence He comes, at another, From Bethlehem, would manifestly even if they had been informed have opposed Him. For be it that they knew not the place of His birth, that He was from Bethlehem, because of His dwelling in Nazareth, (yet this cannot be allowed, for He was not born there,) were they ignorant of His race also, that He was of the house and lineage of David? How then said they, Does not Christ come of the seed of David? John 7:42 Because they wished to conceal even this fact by that question, saying all that they said with malicious intent. Why did they not come to Him and say, Since we admire you in other respects, and you bid us believe you according to the Scriptures, tell us how it is that the Scriptures say that Christ must come from Bethlehem, when you have come from Galilee? But they said nothing of the kind, but all in malice. And to show that they spoke not enquiringly, nor as desiring to learn, the Evangelist straightway has added, that,

John 7:44

Some of them would have taken Him, but no man laid his hand upon Him.

This, if nothing else, might have been sufficient to cause compunction in them, but they felt it not, as the Prophet says, They were cleft asunder, and were not pricked in heart. Psalm 35:15, Septuagint

3. Such a thing is malice! It will give way to nothing, it looks to one thing only, and that is, to destroy the person against whom it plots. But what says the Scripture? Whoever digs a pit for his neighbor, shall fall into it himself. Proverbs 26:27 Which was the case then. For they desired to kill Him, to stop, as they thought, His preaching; the result was the opposite. For the preaching flourishes by the grace of Christ, while all that was theirs is quenched and perished; they have lost their country, their freedom, their security, their worship, they have been deprived of all their prosperity, and have become slaves and captives.

Knowing then this, let us never plot against others, aware that by so doing we whet the sword against ourselves, and inflict upon ourselves the deeper wound. Hath any one grieved you, and desires thou to avenge yourself on him? Avenge not yourself; so shall you be able to be avenged; but if you avenge yourself, you are not avenged. Think not that this is a riddle, but a true saying. How, and in what way? Because if you avenge not yourself on him, you make God his enemy; but if you avenge yourself, no longer so. Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Romans 12:19 For if we have servants, and they having quarreled with each other, do not give place to us for judgment and for punishment, but take it upon themselves; though they come to us ten thousand times, we not only shall not avenge them, but shall even be angry with them, saying, Thou runaway, you flogging-post, you ought to have submitted all to us, but since you have prevented us and avenged yourself, trouble us no farther; much more shall God, who has bidden us commit all unto Him, say this. For how can it be otherwise than absurd, when we demand from our servants so much minding of wisdom and obedience, but will not yield to our Master in those matters in which we desire our domestics to yield to us? This I say because of your readiness to inflict punishment one upon another. The truly wise man ought not to do this even, but to pardon and forgive offenses, though there were not that great reward proposed, the receiving in return forgiveness. For, tell me, if you condemn one who has sinned, wherefore do you sin yourself, and fall into the same fault? Hath he insulted? Insult not thou again, or you have insulted yourself. Hath he struck? Strike not thou again, for then there is no difference between you. Hath he vexed you? Vex him not again, for the profit is nothing, and you will in your turn be placed on an equality with those who have wronged you. Thus, if you bear with meekness and gentleness, you shall be able to reprove your enemy, to shame him, to weary him of being angry. No man cures evil with evil, but evil with good. These rules of wisdom give some of the heathen; now if there be such wisdom among the foolish heathen, let us be ashamed to show ourselves inferior to them. Many of them have been injured, and have borne it; many have been maliciously accused, and not defended themselves; have been plotted against, and have repaid by benefits. And there is no small fear lest some of them be found in their lives to be greater than we, and so render our punishment severer. For when we who have partaken of the Spirit, we who look for the Kingdom, who follow wisdom for the sake of heavenly things, who fear (not) hell, and are bidden to become angels, who enjoy the Mysteries; when we reach not to the virtue unto which they have attained, what pardon shall we have? If we must go beyond the Jews, (for, Unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven Matthew 5:20) much more the heathen; if the Pharisees, much more the unbelievers. Since if when we go not beyond the righteousness of the Jews, the Kingdom is shut against us, how shall we be able to attain unto it when we prove ourselves worse than the heathen? Let us then cast out all bitterness, and wrath, and anger. To speak the same things, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe, Philippians 3:1 For physicians also often use the same remedy, and we will not cease from sounding the same things in your ears, reminding, teaching, exhorting, for great is the tumult of worldly things, and it causes in us forgetfulness, and we have need of continual teaching. Let us then, in order that we meet not together in this place uselessly and in vain, exhibit the proof which is by works, that so we мая obtain the good things to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 52 on the Gospel of John

John 7:45–46

Then came the officers to the Chief Priests and Pharisees; and they said to them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spoke like this Man.

1. There is nothing clearer, nothing simpler than the truth, if we deal not perversely; just as (on the other hand) if we deal perversely, nothing is more difficult. For behold, the Scribes and Pharisees, who seemed forsooth to be wiser than other men, being ever with Christ for the sake of plotting against Him, and beholding His miracles, and reading the Scriptures, were nothing profited, but were even harmed; while the officers, who could not claim one of these privileges, were subdued by one single sermon, and they who had gone forth to bind Him, came back bound themselves by wonder. We must not only marvel at their understanding, that they needed not signs, but were taken by the teaching alone; (for they said not, Never man wrought miracles thus, but, Never man spoke thus;) we must not, I say, merely marvel at their understanding, but also at their boldness, that they spoke thus to those that had sent them, to the Pharisees, to His enemies, to men who were doing all with a view to gratify their enmity. The officers, says the Evangelist, came, and the Pharisees said to them, Why have ye not brought him? To come was a far greater deed than to have remained, for in the latter case they would have been rid of the annoyance of these men, but now they become heralds of the wisdom of Christ, and manifested their boldness in greater degree. And they say not, We could not become of the multitude, for they gave heed unto Him as unto a prophet; but what? Never man spoke as this Man. Yet they might have alleged that, but they show their right feeling. For theirs was the saying not only of men admiring Him, but blaming their masters, because they had sent them to bind Him whom it behooved rather to hear. Yet they had not heard a sermon either, but a short one; for when the long mind is impartial, there is no need of long arguments. Such a thing is truth. What then say the Pharisees? When they ought to have been pricked at the heart, they, on the contrary, retort a charge on the officers, saying,

John 7:47

Are ye also deceived?

They still speak them fair, and do not express themselves harshly, dreading lest the others should entirely separate themselves, yet nevertheless they give signs of anger, and speak sparingly. For when they ought to have asked what He spoke, and to have marveled at the words, they do not so, (knowing that they might have been captivated,) but reason with them from a very foolish argument;

John 7:48

Wherefore, has none of the rulers believed on Him?

Do you then make this a charge against Christ, tell me, and not against the unbelievers?

John 7:49

But the people, which knows not the Law, are accursed.

Then is the charge against you the heavier, because the people believed, and you believed not. They acted like men that knew the Law; how then are they accursed? It is ye that are accursed, who keep not the Law, not they, who obey the Law. Neither was it right, on the evidence of unbelievers, to slander one in whom they believed not, for this is an unjust mode of acting. For you also believed not God, as Paul says; What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect? God forbid. Romans 3:3–4 For the Prophets ever rebuked them, saying, Hear, you rulers of Sodom; and, Your rulers are disobedient Isaiah 1:10, 23; and again, Is it not for you to know judgment? Micah 3:1 And everywhere they attack them vehemently. What then? Shall one blame God for this? Away with the thought. This blame is theirs. And what other proof can a man bring of your not knowing the Law than your not obeying it? For when they had said, Hath any of the rulers believed on him? and, These who know not the Law, Nicodemus in fair consequence upbraids them, saying,

John 7:51

Does our law judge any man before it hear him?

He shows that they neither know the Law, nor do the Law; for if that Law commands to kill no man without first hearing him, and they before hearing were eager for this deed, they were transgressors of the Law. And because they said, None of the rulers has believed on him John 7:50, therefore the Evangelist informs us that Nicodemus was one of them, to show that even rulers believed on Him; for although they showed not yet fitting boldness, still they were becoming attached to Christ. Observe how cautiously he rebukes them; he said not, You desire to kill him, and condemn the man for a deceiver without proof; but spoke in a milder way, hindering their excessive violence, and their inconsiderate and murderous disposition. Wherefore he turns his discourse to the Law, saying, Except it hear him carefully, and know what he does. So that not a bare hearing, but careful hearing is required. For the meaning of, know what he does, is, what he intends, on what account, for what purpose, whether for the subversion of the order of things and as an enemy. Being therefore perplexed, because they had said, None of the rulers has believed on him, they addressed him, neither vehemently, nor yet with forbearance. For tell me, after he had said, The Law judges no man, how does it follow that they should say,

John 7:52

Are you also of Galilee?

2. When they ought to have shown that they had not sent to summon Him without judgment, or that it was not fitting to allow Him speech, they take the reply rather in a rough and angry manner.

Search, and look: for out of Galilee has arisen no prophet.

Why, what had the man said? That Christ was a prophet? No; he said, that He ought not to be slain unjudged; but they replied insolently, and as to one who knew nothing of the Scriptures; as though one had said, Go, learn, for this is the meaning of, Search, and look. What then did Christ? Since they were continually dwelling upon Galilee and The Prophet, to free all men from this erroneous suspicion, and to show that He was not one of the prophets, but the Master of the world, He said,

John 8:12

I am the light of the world.

Not of Galilee, not of Palestine, nor of Judæa. What then say the Jews?

John 8:13

You bear record of yourself, your record is not true.

Alas! For their folly, He continually referred them to the Scriptures, and now they say, You bear record of yourself. What was the record He bare? I am the light of the world. A great thing to say, great of a truth, but it did not greatly amaze them, because He did not now make Himself equal to the Father, nor assert that He was His Son, nor that He was God, but for a while calls Himself a light. They indeed desired to disprove this also, and yet this was a much greater thing than to say,

He that follows Me, shall not walk in darkness.

Using the words light and darkness in a spiritual sense, and meaning thereby abides not in error. In this place He draws on Nicodemus, and brings him in as having spoken very boldly, and praises the servants who had also done so. For to cry aloud, is the act of one desirous to cause that they also should hear. At the same time He hints at these who were secretly contriving treacheries, being both in darkness and error, but that they should not prevail over the light. And He reminds Nicodemus of the words which He had uttered before, Every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. John 3:20 For since they had asserted that none of the rulers had believed on Him, therefore He says, that he that does evil comes not to the light, to show that their not having come proceeds not from the weakness of the light, but from their own perverse will.

They answered and said to Him, Do you bear witness to yourself?

What then says He?

John 8:14

Though I bear record of Myself, My record is true; for I know whence I come, and whither I go; but you cannot tell whence I come.

What He had before said, these men bring forward as if it had been specially asserted. What then does Christ? To refute this, and to show that He used those expressions as suitable to them and to their suspicions, who supposed Him to be a mere man, He says, Though I bear record of Myself, My record is true, for I know whence I come. What is this? I am of God, am God, the Son of God, and God Himself is a faithful witness unto Himself, but you know Him not; ye willingly err, knowing ye pretend not to know, but say all that you say according to mere human imagination, choosing to understand nothing beyond what is seen.

John 8:15

You judge after the flesh.

As to live after the flesh is to live badly, so to judge after the flesh is to judge unjustly. But I judge no man.

John 8:16

And yet if I judge, My judgment is true.

What He says, is of this kind; You judge unjustly. And if, says some one, we judge unjustly, why dost Thou not rebuke us? Why dost Thou not punish us? Why dost Thou not condemn us? Because, He says, I came not for this. This is the meaning of, I judge no man; yet if I judge, My judgment is true. For had I been willing to judge, you would have been among the condemned. And this I say, not judging you. Yet neither do I tell you that I say it, not judging you, as though I were not confident that had I judged you, I should have convicted you; since if I had judged you, I must justly have condemned you. But now the time of judgment is not yet. He alluded also to the judgment to come, saying,

I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me.

Here He hinted, that not He alone condemns them, but the Father also. Then He concealed this, by leading them to His own testimony.

John 8:17

It is written in your Law, that the testimony of two men is true.

3. What would the heretics say here? (They would say,) How is he better than man, if we take what he has said simply? For this rule is laid down in the case of men, because no man by himself is trustworthy. But in the case of God, how can one endure such a mode of speaking? How then is the word 'two' used? Is it because they are two, or because being men they are therefore two? If it is because they are two, why did he not betake himself to John, and say, I bear witness of myself, and John bears witness of me? Wherefore not to the angels? Wherefore not to the prophets? For he might have found ten thousand other testimonies. But he desires to show not this only that there are Two, but also that they are of the same Substance.

John 8:19

Then said they unto Him, Who is your father? Jesus answered, You neither know Me, nor My Father.

Because while they knew they spoke as though they knew not, and as if trying Him, He does not even deem them worthy of an answer. Wherefore henceforth He speaks all more clearly and more boldly; drawing His testimony from signs, and from His teaching of them that followed Him, and by the Cross being near. For, I know, He says, whence I come. This would not greatly affect them, but the adding, and whither I go, would rather terrify them, since He was not to remain in death. But why said He not, I know that I am God, instead of, I know whence I come? He ever mingles lowly words with sublime, and even these He veils. For after saying, I bear witness of Myself, and proving this, He descends to a humbler strain. As though He had said, I know from whom I am sent, and to whom I depart. For so they could have had nothing to say against it, when they heard that He was sent from Him, and would depart to Him. I could not have spoken, He says, any falsehood, I who have come from thence, and depart there, to the true God. But ye know not God, and therefore judge according to the flesh. For if having heard so many sure signs and proofs ye still say, 'your witness is not true,' if you deem Moses worthy of credit, both as to what he speaks concerning others and what he speaks concerning himself, but Christ not so, this is to judge according to the flesh. But I judge no man. He says indeed also that the Father judges no man. John 5:22 How then does He here declare, that, If I judge, My judgment is just, for I am not alone? He again speaks in reply to their thoughts. The judgment which is Mine is the judgment of the Father. The Father, judging, would not judge otherwise than as I do, and I should not judge otherwise than as the Father. Wherefore did He mention the Father? Because they would not have thought that the Son was to be believed unless He received the witness of the Father. Besides, the saying does not even hold good. For in the case of men when two bear witness in a matter pertaining to another, then their witness is true, (this is for two to witness,) but if one should witness for himself, then they are no longer two. Do you see that He said this for nothing else but to show that He was of the same Substance, that He needed no other witness, and was in nothing inferior to the Father? Observe at least His independence ;

John 8:18

I am One that bear witness of Myself; and the Father that sent Me bears witness of Me.

Had He been of inferior substance, He would not have put this. But now that you мая not deem that the Father is included, to make up the number (of two), observe that His power has nothing different (from the Father's). A man bears witness when he is trustworthy of himself, not when he himself needs testimony, and that too in a matter pertaining to another; but in a matter of his own, where he needs the witness of another, he is not trustworthy. But in this case it is all contrary. For He though bearing witness in a matter of His own, and saying that witness is borne to Him by another, asserts that He is trustworthy, in every way manifesting His independence. For why, when He had said, I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me, and, The testimony of two men is true, did He not hold His peace, instead of adding, I am One that bear witness of Myself? It was evidently to show His independence. And He places Himself first; I am One that bear witness of Myself. Here He shows His equality of honor, and that they were profited nothing by saying that they knew God the Father, while they knew not Him. And He says that the cause of this (ignorance) was that they were not willing to know Him. Therefore He tells them that it was not possible to know the Father without knowing Him, that even so He might draw them to the knowledge of Him. For since leaving Him they even sought to get the knowledge of the Father, He says, You cannot know the Father without Me. John 8:19 So that they who blaspheme the Son, blaspheme not the Son only, but Him that begot Him also.

4. This let us avoid, and glorify the Son. Had He not been of the same Nature, He would not have spoken thus. For had He merely taught, but been of different Substance, a man might not have known Him, and yet have known the Father; and again, it would not have been that one who knew Him, would have altogether known the Father; for neither does one who knows a man know an Angel. Yes, replies some one, he that knows the creation, knows God. By no means. Many, or rather I should say, all men know the creation, (for they see it,) but they know not God. Let us then glorify the Son of God, not with this glory (of words) only, but that also which is by works. For the first without the last is nothing. Behold, says St. Paul, you are called a Jew, and restest in the Law, and makest your boast of God – thou therefore that teachest another, teachest class="greek">judgest. «}--> thou not yourself? Thou that makest your boast of the Law, through breaking of the Law do you dishonor God? Romans 2:17–23 Beware lest we also who make boast of the rightness of our faith dishonor God by not manifesting a life agreeable to the faith, causing Him to be blasphemed. For He would have the Christian to be the teacher of the world, its leaven, its salt, its light. And what is that light? It is a life which shines, and has in it no dark thing. Light is not useful to itself, nor leaven, nor salt, but shows its usefulness towards others, and so we are required to do good, not to ourselves only, but to others. For salt, if it salt not, is not salt. Moreover another thing is evident, that if we be righteous, others shall certainly be so also; but as long as we are not righteous, we shall not be able to assist others. Let there be nothing foolish or silly among us; such are worldly matters, such are the cares of this life. Wherefore the virgins were called foolish, because they were busy about foolish, worldly matters, gathering things together here, but laying not up treasure where they ought. Fear there is lest this be our case, fear lest we too depart clothed with filthy garments, to that place where all have them bright and shining. For nothing is more filthy, nothing more impure, than sin. Wherefore the Prophet declaring its nature cried out, My wounds stink, and are corrupt. Psalm 38:5 And if you will fully learn how ill-savored sin is, consider it after it has been done; when you are delivered from the desire, when the fire no longer troubles you, then shall you see what sin is. Consider anger, when you are calm; consider avarice, when thou dost not feel it. There is nothing more shameful, nothing more accursed, than rapine and avarice. This we continually say, desiring not to vex you, but to gain some great and wonderful advantage. For he who has not acted rightly after hearing once, мая perhaps do so after hearing a second time; and he who has passed by the second time, мая do right after the third. God grant that we, being delivered from all evil things, мая have the sweet savor of Christ; for to Him, with the Father and the Holy Ghost is glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 53 on the Gospel of John

John 8:20

These words spoke Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple; and no man laid hands on Him, for His hour was not yet come.

1. Oh the folly of the Jews! seeking Him as they did before the Passover, and then having found Him in the midst of them, and having often attempted to take Him by their own or by others' hands without being able; they were not even so awed by His power, but set themselves to their wickedness, and desisted not. For it says, that they continually made the attempt; These words spoke He in the treasury, teaching in the Temple; and no man laid hands on Him. He spoke in the Temple, and in the character of teacher, which was more adapted to rouse them, and He spoke those things because of which they were stung, and charged Him with making Himself equal to the Father. For the witness of two men is true, proves this. Yet still He spoke these words, It says, in the Temple, in the character of teacher, and no man laid hands on Him, for His hour was not yet come; that is, it was not yet the fitting time at which He would be crucified. So that even then the deed done was not of their power, but of His dispensation, for they had long desired, but had not been able, nor would they even then have been able, except He had consented.

John 8:21

Then said Jesus unto them, I go My way, and you shall seek Me.

Why says He this continually? To shame and terrify their souls; for observe what fear this saying caused in them. Although they desired to kill Him that they might be rid of Him, they yet ask, whither He goes, such great things did they imagine from the matter. He desired also to show them another thing, that the deed would not be effected through their force; but He showed it to them in a figure beforehand, and already foretold the Resurrection by these words.

John 8:22

Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself?

What then does Christ? To remove their suspicion, and to show that such an act is sin, He says,

John 8:23

You are from beneath.

What He says, is of this kind: It is no wonder that you imagine such things, you who are carnal men, and have no spiritual thoughts, but I shall not do anything of the kind, for,

I am from above; you are of the world.

Here again He speaks of their worldly and carnal imaginations, whence it is clear that the, I am not of this world, does not mean that He had not taken upon Him flesh, but that He was far removed from their wickedness. For He even says, that His disciples were not of the world John 15:19, yet they had flesh. As then Paul, when he says, You are not in the flesh Romans 8:9, does not mean that they are incorporeal, so Christ when He says, that His disciples are not of the world, does nothing else than testify to their heavenly wisdom.

John 8:24

I said therefore unto you that...if you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sins.

For if He came to take away the sin of the world, and if it is impossible for men to put that off in any other way except by the washing, it needs must be that he that believes not must depart hence, having the old man; since he that will not by faith slay and bury that old man, shall die in him, and shall go away to that place to suffer the punishment of His former sins. Wherefore He said, He that believes not is judged already John 3:18; not merely through his not believing, but because he de parts parts hence having his former sins upon him.

John 8:25

Then said they unto Him, Who are you?

Oh folly! After so long a time, such signs and teaching, they ask, Who are you? What then says Christ?

The same that I told you from the beginning.

What He says, is of this kind; You are not worthy to hear My words at all, much less to learn who I am, for you say all that you do, tempting Me, and giving heed to none of My sayings. And all this I could now prove against you. For this is the sense of,

John 8:26

I have many things to say and to judge of you.

I could not only prove you guilty, but also punish you; but He that sent Me, that is, the Father, wills not this. For I have come not to judge the world, but to save the world, since God sent not His Son to judge the world, He says, but to save the world. John 3:17 If now He has sent Me for this, and He is true, with good cause I judge no one now. But these things I speak that are for your salvation, not what are for your condemnation. He speaks thus, lest they should deem that it was through weakness that on hearing so much from them He went not to extremities, or that He knew not their secret thoughts and scoffings.

John 8:27

They understood not that He spoke to them of the Father.

Oh folly! He ceased not to speak concerning Him, and they knew Him not. Then when after working many signs, and teaching them, He drew them not to Himself, He next speaks to them of the Cross, saying,

John 8:28–29

When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you shall know that I Am, and that I speak not of Myself, and that He that sent Me is with Me. And the Father has not left Me alone.

2. He shows that He rightly said, the same that I said to you from the beginning. So little heed they gave to His words. When you have lifted up the Son of Man. Do ye not expect that you then shall certainly rid yourselves of Me, and slay Me? But I tell you that then you shall most know that I Am, by reason of the miracles, the resurrection, and the destruction (of Jerusalem). For all these things were sufficient to manifest His power. He said not, Then you shall know who I am; for, when you shall see, He says, that I suffer nothing from death, then you shall know that I Am, that is, the Christ, the Son of God, who govern all things, and am not opposed to Him. For which cause He adds, and of Myself I speak nothing. For you shall know both My power and My unanimity with the Father. Because the, of Myself I speak nothing, shows that His Substance differs not (from that of the Father), and that He utters nothing save that which is in the mind of the Father. For when you have been driven away from your place of worship, and it is not allowed you even to serve Him as hitherto, then you shall know that He does this to avenge Me, and because He is angry with those who would not hear Me. As though He had said, Had I been an enemy and a stranger to God, He would not have stirred up such wrath against you. This also Esaias declares, He shall give the wicked in return for His burial Isaiah 53:9, Septuagint; and David, Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath Psalm 2:5; and Christ Himself, Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. Matthew 23:38 And His parables declare the same thing when He says, What shall the Lord of that vineyard do to those husbandmen? He shall miserably destroy those wicked men. Matthew 21:40–41 Do you see that everywhere He speaks thus, because He is not yet believed? But if He will destroy them, as He will, (for, Bring hither, It says, those which would not that I should reign over them, and slay them,) wherefore says He that the deed is not His, but His Father's? He addresses Himself to their weakness, and at the same time honors Him that begot Him. Wherefore He said not, I leave your house desolate, but, it is left; He has put it impersonally. But by saying, How often would I have gathered your children together – and you would not, and then adding, is left, He shows that He wrought the desolation. For since, He tells them, when you were benefited and healed of your infirmities, you would not know Me, you shall know by being punished who I am.

And the Father is with Me. That they мая not deem the who sent Me to be a mark of inferiority, He says, is with Me; the first belongs to the Dispensation, the second to the Godhead.

And He has not left Me alone, for I do always those things that please Him.

Again He has brought down His discourse to a humbler strain, continually setting Himself against that which they asserted, that He was not of God, and that He kept not the Sabbath. To this He replies, I do always those things that are pleasing unto Him; showing that it was pleasing unto Him even that the Sabbath should be broken. So, for instance, just before the Crucifixion He said, Think ye that I cannot call upon My Father? Matthew 26:53 And yet by merely saying, Whom do you seek? c. xviii. 4, 6 He cast them down backwards. Why then says He not, Think ye that I cannot destroy you, when He had proved this by deed? He condescends to their infirmity. For He took great pains to show that He did nothing contrary to the Father. Thus He speaks rather after the manner of a man; and as He has not left Me alone, was spoken, so also was the, I do always those things that are pleasing unto Him.

John 8:30

As He spoke these words, many believed on Him.

When He brought down His speech to a lowly strain, many believed on Him. Do you still ask wherefore He speaks humbly? Yet the Evangelist clearly alluded to this when he said, As He spoke these things, many believed on Him. By this all but proclaiming aloud to us, Oh hearer, be not confounded if you hear any lowly expression, for they who after such high teaching were not yet persuaded that He was of the Father, were with good reason made to hear humbler words, that they might believe. And this is an excuse for those things which shall be spoken in a humble way. They believed then, yet not as they ought, but carelessly and as it were by chance, being pleased and refreshed by the humility of the words. For that they had not perfect faith the Evangelist shows by their speeches after this, in which they insult Him again. And that these are the very same persons he has declared by saying,

John 8:31

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My word.

Showing that they had not yet received His doctrine, but only gave heed unto His words. Wherefore He speaks more sharply. Before He merely said, You shall seek Me John 7:34, but now He adds what is more, You shall die in your sins. John 8:21 And He shows how; because ye cannot when you have come to that place afterwards entreat Me.

These things which I speak unto the world. By these words He showed that He was now going forth to the Gentiles. But because they still knew not that He spoke to them of the Father, He again speaks of Him, and the Evangelist has put the reason of the humility of the expressions.

3. If now we will thus search the Scriptures, exactly and not carelessly, we shall be able to attain unto our salvation; if we continually dwell upon them, we shall learn right doctrine and a perfect life. For although a man be very hard, and stubborn, and proud, and profit nothing at other times, yet at least he shall gain fruit from this time, and receive benefit, if not so great as to admit of his being sensible of it, still he shall receive it. For if a man who passes by an ointment-maker's shop, or sits in one, is impregnated with the perfume even against his will, much more is this the case with one who comes to church. For as idleness is born of idleness, so too from working is generated a ready mind. Although you are full of ten thousand sins, although you are impure, shun not the tarrying here. Wherefore, it мая be said, when hearing I do not? It is no small profit to deem one's self wretched; this fear is not useless, this dread is not unseasonable. If only you groan that, hearing I do not, you will certainly come also to the doing at some time or other. For it cannot be that he who speaks with God, and hears God speak, should not profit. We compose ourselves at once and wash our hands when we desire to take the Bible into them. Do you see even before the reading what reverence is here? And if we go on with exactness, we shall reap great advantage. For we should not, unless it served to place the soul in reverence, have washed our hands; and a woman if she be unveiled straightway puts on her veil, giving proof of internal reverence, and a man if he be covered bares his head. Do you see how the outward behavior proclaims the inward reverence? Then moreover he that sits to hear groans often, and condemns his present life.

Let us then, beloved, give heed to the Scriptures, and if no other part be so, let the Gospels at least be the subjects of our earnest care, let us keep them in our hands. For straightway when you have opened the Book you shall see the name of Christ there, and shall hear one say, The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. When His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, she was found with Child of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 1:18 He that hears this will immediately desire virginity, will marvel at the Birth, will be freed from earthly things. It is not a little thing when you see the Virgin deemed worthy of the Spirit, and an Angel talking with her. And this upon the very surface; but if you persevere to go on unto the end, you shall loathe all that pertains to this life, shall mock at all worldly things. If you are rich, you shall think nothing of wealth, when you hear that she who was (the wife) of a carpenter, and of humble family, became the mother of your Lord. If you are poor you shall not be ashamed of your poverty, when you hear that the Creator of the world was not ashamed of the meanest dwelling. Considering this, thou will not rob, you will not covet, you will not take the goods of others, but will rather be a lover of poverty, and despise wealth. And if this be the case, you shall banish all evil. Again, when you see Him lying in a manger, you will not be anxious to put golden garments about your child, or to cause your wife's couch to be inlaid with silver. And if you care not for these things, you will not do either the deeds of covetousness and rapine, which are caused by them. Many other things you мая gain which I cannot separately enumerate, but they will know who have made the trial. Wherefore I exhort you both to obtain Bibles, and to retain together with the Bibles the sentiments they set forth, and to write them in your minds. The Jews because they gave no heed were commanded to suspend their books from their hands; but we place them not even in our hands but in our house, when we ought to stamp them on our heart. Thus cleansing our present life, we shall obtain the good things that are to come to which мая we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily 54 on the Gospel of John

John 8:31–32

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

1. Beloved, our condition needs much endurance; and endurance is produced when doctrines are deeply rooted. For as no wind is able by its assaults to tear up the oak, which sends down its root into the lower recesses of the earth, and is firmly clenched there; so too the soul which is nailed by the fear of God none will be able to overturn. Since to be nailed is more than to be rooted. Thus the Prophet prays, saying, Nail my flesh by Your fear Psalm 119:120, Septuagint; do Thou so fix and join me, as by a nail riveted into me. For as men of this kind are hard to be captured, so the opposite sort are a ready prey, and are easily thrown down. As was the case of the Jews at that time; for after having heard and believed, they again turned out of the way. Christ therefore desiring to deepen their faith that it might not be merely superficial, digs into their souls by more striking words. For it was the part of believers to endure even reproofs, but they immediately were angry. But how does He this? He first tells them, If you continue in My word, you are My disciples indeed: and the truth shall make you free. All but saying, I am about to make a deep incision, but be not ye moved; or rather by these expressions He allayed the pride of their imagination. Shall make you free: from what, tell me? From your sins. What then say those boasters?

John 8:33

We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man.

Immediately their imagination dropped, and this happened from their having been fluttered about worldly things. If you continue in My word, was the expression of One declaring what was in their heart, and knowing that they had indeed believed, but had not continued. And He promises a great thing, that they should become His disciples. For since some had gone away from Him before this, alluding to them He says, If you continue, because they also had heard and believed, and departed because they could not continue. For many of His disciples went back, and walked no more openly with Him. John 6:66

You shall know the truth, that is, shall know Me, for I am the truth. All the Jewish matters were types, but you shall know the truth from Me, and it shall free you from your sins. As to those others He said, You shall die in your sins, so to these He says, shall make you free. He said not, I will deliver you from bondage, this He allowed them to conjecture. What then said they?

We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man. And yet if they must needs have been vexed, it might have been expected that they would have been so at the former part of His speech, at His having said, You shall know the truth; and that they would have replied, What! Do we not now know the truth? Is then the Law and our knowledge a lie? But they cared for none of these things, they are grieved at worldly things, and these were their notions of bondage. And certainly even now, there are many who feel shame at indifferent matters, and at this kind of bondage, but who feel none for the bondage of sin, and who would rather be called servants to this latter kind of bondage ten thousand times, than once to the former. Such were these men, and they did not even know of any other bondage, and they say, Bondsmen do you call those who are of the race of Abraham, the nobly born, who therefore ought not to be called bondsmen? For, says one, we were never in bondage to any man. Such are the boastings of the Jews. We are the seed of Abraham, we are Israelites. They never mention their own righteous deeds. Wherefore John cried out to them, saying, Think not to say that we have Abraham to our father. Matthew 3:9 And why did not Christ confute them, for they had often been in bondage to the Egyptians, Babylonians, and many others? Because His words were not to gain honor for Himself, but for their salvation, for their benefit, and toward this object He was pressing. For He might have spoken of the four hundred years, He might have spoken of the seventy, He might have spoken of the years of bondage during the time of the Judges, at one time twenty, at another two, at another seven; He might have said that they had never ceased being in bondage. But He desired not to show that they were slaves of men, but that they were slaves of sin, which is the most grievous slavery, from which God alone can deliver; for to forgive sins belongs to none other. And this too they allowed. Since then they confessed that this was the work of God, He brings them to this point, and says,

John 8:34

Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.

Showing that this is the freedom of which He speaks, the freedom from this service.

John 8:35

The servant abides not in the house, but the Son abides forever.

Gently too from this He casts down the things of the Law, alluding to former times. For that they мая not run back to them and say, We have the sacrifices which Moses commanded, they are able to deliver us, He adds these words, since otherwise what connection would the saying have? For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace Romans 3:23–24, even the priests themselves. Wherefore Paul also says of the priest, that he ought as for the people so also for himself to offer for sins, for that he also is compassed about with infirmity. Hebrews 5:3 And this is signified by His saying, The servant abides not in the house. Here also He shows His equal honor with the Father, and the difference between slave and free. For the parable has this meaning, that is, the servant has no power, this is the meaning of abides not.

2. But why when speaking of sins does He mention a house? It is to show that as a master has power over his house, so He over all. And the, abides not, is this, has not power to grant favors, as not being master of the house; but the Son is master of the house. For this is the, abides forever, by a metaphor drawn from human things. That they мая not say, who are you? All is Mine, (He says,) for I am the Son, and dwell in My Father's house, calling by the name of house His power. As in another place He calls the Kingdom His Father's house, In My Father's house are many mansions. Hebrews 14:2 For since the discourse was of freedom and bondage, He with reason used this metaphor, telling them that they had no power to set free.

John 8:36

If the Son therefore shall make you free.

Do you see the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and how He declares that He has the same power as the Father? If the Son make you free, no man afterwards gain-says, but you have firm freedom. For it is God that justifies, who is He that condemns? Romans 8:33–34 Here He shows that He Himself is pure from sin, and alludes to that freedom which reached only to a name; this even men give, but that God alone. And so he persuaded them not to be ashamed at this slavery, but at that of sin. And desiring to show that they were not slaves, except by repudiating that liberty, He the more shows them to be slaves by saying,

You shall be free indeed.

This is the expression of one declaring that this freedom was not real. Then, that they might not say, We have no sin, (for it was probable that they would say so,) observe how He brings them beneath this imputation. For omitting to convict all their life, He brings forward that which they had in hand, which they yet desired to do, and says,

John 8:37

I know that you are Abraham's seed but you seek to kill Me.

Gently and by little does He expel them from that relationship, teaching them not to be high-minded because of it. For as freedom and bondage depend on men's actions, so also does relationship. He said not directly, You are not the seed of Abraham, you the murderers of the righteous; but for a while He even goes along with them, and says, I know that you are Abraham's seed. Yet this is not the matter in question, and during the remainder of this speech He uses greater vehemence. For we мая for the most part observe, that when He is about to work any great thing, after He has wrought it, He uses greater boldness of speech, as though the testimony from His works shut men's mouths. But ye seek to kill Me. What of that, says some one, if they sought to do so justly. But this was not so either; wherefore also He puts the reason;

Because My word has no place in you.

How then was it, says some one, that they believed on Him? As I before said, they changed again. On which account He touched them sharply. If you boast the relationship of Abraham ye ought also to show forth his life. And He said not, You do not contain my words, but, My word has no place in you, thus declaring the sublimity of His doctrines. Yet not for this ought they to have slain, but rather to have honored and waited on Him so as to learn. But what, says some one, if you speak these things of yourself? On this account He added,

John 8:38

I speak that which I have seen with My Father, and you do that which you have heard from your father.

As, He says, I both by My words and by the truth declare the Father, so also do ye by your actions (declare yours). For I have not only the same Substance, but also the same Truth with the Father.

John 8:39–40

They said to Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus says unto them, If you had Abraham to your father, you would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill Me.

He here repeatedly handles their murderous intention, and makes mention of Abraham. And this He does desiring to draw off their attention from this relationship, and to take away their excessive boasting, and also to persuade them no longer to rest their hopes of salvation in Abraham, nor in the relationship which is according to nature, but in that which is according to the will. For what hindered their coming to Christ was this, their deeming that relationship to be sufficient for them to salvation. But what is the truth of which He speaks? That He is equal with the Father. For it was on this account that the Jews sought to slay Him; and He says,

You seek to kill Me because I have told you the truth, which I have heard of My Father.

To show that these things are not opposed to the Father, He again betakes Himself to Him. They say unto Him,

John 8:41

We be not born of fornication, we have one Father, even God.

3. What do you say? You have God for your Father, and do ye blame Christ for asserting this? Do you see that He said that God was His Father in a special manner? When therefore He had cast them out of their relationship to Abraham, having nothing to reply, they dare a greater thing, and betake themselves to God. But from this honor also He expels them, saying,

John 8:42–44

If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do ye not understand My speech? Even because ye cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do: he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth: when he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own.

He had driven them out of their relationship to Abraham, and when they dared greater things, He then adds a blow, telling them that they not only are not Abraham's children, but that they are even children of the devil, and inflicting a wound which might counterbalance their shamelessness; nor does He leave it unsupported, but establishes it by proofs. For, He says, to murder belongs to the wickedness of the devil. And He said not merely, ye do his works, but, ye do his lusts, showing that both he and they hold to murder, and that envy was the cause. For the devil destroyed Adam, not because he had any charge against him, but only from envy. To this also He alludes here.

And abode not in the truth. That is, in the right life. For since they continually accused Him of not being from God, He tells them that this also is from thence. For the devil first was the father of a lie, when he said, In the day that you eat thereof your eyes shall be opened Genesis 3:5, and he first used it. For men use a lie not as a thing proper, but alien to their nature, but he as proper.

John 8:45

And because I tell you the truth, you believe Me not.

What kind of consequence is this? Having no charge against Me, you desire to kill Me. For because you are enemies of the truth, therefore ye persecute Me. Since had this not been the reason, you would have named your charge. Wherefore He added,

John 8:46

Which of you convinces Me of sin?

Then they said, We be not born of fornication. Yet in fact many of them were born of fornication, for they practiced unbefitting unions. Still He does not convict them of this, but sets Himself to the other point. For when He has proved them to be, not of God, but of the devil, by all these signs, (for to do murder is of the devil, and to lie is of the devil, both which you do,) then He shows that to love is the sign of being of God. Why do ye not understand My speech? Since they were always doubting, saying, What is it that he says, 'Whither I go ye cannot come'? therefore He tells them, You do not understand My speech, because you have not the word of God. And this comes to you, because that your understanding is groveling, and because what is Mine is far too great for you. But what if they could not understand? Not to be able here means not to be willing; for you have trained yourselves to be mean, to imagine nothing great. Because they said that they persecuted Him as being themselves zealous for God, on this account He everywhere strives to show that to persecute Him is the act of those who hate God, but that, on the contrary, to love Him is the act of those who know God.

We have one Father, even God. On this ground they pride themselves, on their honor not their righteous deeds. Therefore your not believing is no proof that I am an enemy to God, but your unbelief is a sign that you do not know God. And the reason is, from your being willing to lie and to do the works of the devil. But this is the effect of meanness of soul; (as the Apostle says, 'For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are you not carnal?') 1Corinthians 3:3 And why is it that you cannot ? Because you will to do the lusts of your father, you are eager, you are ambitious (to do them). Do you see that ye cannot express a want of will? For this did not Abraham. What are his works? Gentleness, meekness, obedience. But ye set yourselves on the contrary part, being hard and cruel.

But how came it into their thoughts to betake themselves to God? He had shown them unworthy of Abraham; desiring therefore to escape this charge, they mounted higher. For when He reproached them with murder, they said this, making it, as it were, a kind of excuse for themselves that they were avenging God. Therefore He shows that this very thing is the act of men opposing God. And the, I came forth, shows that He was from thence. He says, I came forth, alluding to His arrival among us. But since they would probably say to Him, Thou speaks certain things strange and new, He tells them that He had come from God. And therefore with good reason ye hear them not, because you are of the devil. For on what account would ye kill Me? What charge have ye to bring against Me? If there be none, why do ye not believe Me? Thus then having proved them to be of the devil by their lying and their murder, He shows them also to be alien from Abraham and from God, both because they hated One who had done no wrong, and because they would not hear His word; and in every way He proves that He was not opposed to God, and that it was not on this account that they refused to believe, but because they were aliens from God. For when One who had done no sin, who said that He came from God and was sent of God, who spoke the truth, and so spoke it as to challenge all to the proof, after this was not believed, it is clear that He was not believed because of their being carnal. Since sins do use, yea they do use to debase a soul. Wherefore It says, Seeing you have become dull of hearing. Hebrews 5:11 For when a man cannot despise earthly things, how shall he ever be wise concerning heavenly things?

4. Wherefore, I exhort you, use we every means that our life мая be righteous, that our minds мая be cleansed, so that no filthiness be a hindrance to us; kindle for yourselves the light of knowledge, and sow not among thorns. For how shall one who knows not that covetousness is an evil, ever know the greater good? How shall one who refrains not from these earthly things ever hold fast to those heavenly? It is good to take by violence, not the things that perish, but the Kingdom of heaven. The violent, it says, take it by force. Matthew 11:12 It is then not possible to attain to it by sluggishness, but by zeal. But what means the violent? There is need of much violence, (for strait is the way,) there is need of a youthful soul and a noble. Plunderers desire to outstrip all other, they look to nothing, neither to conviction, nor accusation, nor punishment, but are given up to one thing only, the getting hold of what they desire to seize, and they run past all that are before them in the way. Seize we then the Kingdom of heaven, for here to seize is no fault but rather praise, and the fault is the not seizing. Here our wealth comes not from another's loss. Haste we then to seize it. Should passion disquiet us, should lust disquiet us, let us do violence to our nature, let us become more gentle, let us labor a little, that we мая rest forever. Seize not thou gold, but seize that wealth which shows gold to be but mud. For tell me, if lead and gold were laid before you, which would you take? Is it not clear that you would take the gold? Do you then, where one who seizes is punished, prefer that which is the more valuable, but where one who seizes is honored, give up what is the more valuable? If there were punishment in both cases, would you not rather aim at this latter ? But in this case there is nothing like punishment, but even blessedness. And, How, says some one, мая one seize it? Cast away the things which you have already in your hands; for so long as you grasp them you will not be able to seize the other. For consider, I pray you, a man with his hands full of silver, will he be able, as long as he retains it, to seize on gold, unless he first cast away the silver, and be free? Because he that seizes a thing must be well-girt so as not to be detained. And even now there are adverse powers running down against us to rob us, but let us fly them, let us fly them, trailing after us nothing that мая give a hold, let us cut asunder the cords, let us strip ourselves of the things of earth. What need of silken garments? How long shall we be unrolling this mockery? How long shall we be burying gold? I desired to cease from always saying these things, but you will not suffer me, continually supplying me with occasions and arguments. But now at least let us desist, that having instructed others by our lives, we мая obtain the promised good things, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 55 on the Gospel of John

John 8:48–49

Then answered the Jews, and said to Him, Say we not well that you are a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honor My Father.

1. A shameless and a forward thing is wickedness, and when it ought to hide itself, then is it the fiercer. As was the case with the Jews. For when they ought to have been pricked by what was said, admiring the boldness and conclusiveness of the words, they even insult Him, calling Him a Samaritan, and saying that He had a devil, and they ask, Said we not well that you are a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Because when He utters anything sublime, this is thought among the very senseless to be madness. Yet nowhere before did the Evangelist say that they called Him a Samaritan; but from this expression it is probable that this had been often asserted by them.

You have a devil, says some one. Who is it that has a devil? He that honors God, or he that insults Him that honors Him? What then says Christ, who is very meekness and gentleness? I have not a devil, but I honor Him that sent me. Where there was need to instruct them, to pull down their excessive insolence, to teach them not to be proud because of Abraham, He was vehement; but when it was needful that He being insulted should bear it, He used much gentleness. When they said, We have God and Abraham for our Father, He touched them sharply; but when they called Him a demoniac, He spoke submissively, thus teaching us to avenge insults offered to God, but to overlook such as are offered to ourselves.

John 8:50

I seek not My own glory.

These things, He says, I have spoken to show that it becomes not you, being murderers, to call God your Father; so that I have spoken them through honor for Him, and for His sake do I hear these reproaches, and for His sake do ye dishonor Me. Yet I care not for this insolence ; to Him, for whose sake I now hear these things, you owe an account of your words. For 'I seek not My own glory.' Wherefore I omit to punish you, and betake Myself to exhortation, and counsel you so to act, that you shall not only escape punishment, but also attain eternal life.

John 8:51

Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.

Here He speaks not of faith only, but of a pure life. Above He said, shall have everlasting life, but here, shall not see death. John 6:40 At the same time He hints to them that they could do nothing against Him, for if the man that should keep His saying should not die, much less should He Himself. At least they understood it so, and said to Him,

John 8:52

Now we know that you have a devil; Abraham is dead, and the Prophets are dead.

That is, they who heard the word of God are dead, and shall they who have heard yours not die?

John 8:53

Are you greater than our father Abraham?

Alas for their vainglory! Again do they betake themselves to his relationship. Yet it would have been suitable to say, Are you greater than God? Or they who have heard you than Abraham? But they say not this, because they thought that He was even less than Abraham. At first, therefore, He showed that they were murderers, and so led them away from the relationship; but when they persevered, He contrived this in another way, showing that they labored uselessly. And concerning the death, He said nothing to them, neither did He reveal or tell them what kind of death He meant, but in the meantime He would have them believe, that He is greater than Abraham, that even by this He мая put them to shame. Certainly, He says, were I a common man I ought not to die, having done no wrong; but when I speak the truth, and have no sin, am sent from God, and am greater than Abraham, are you not mad, do ye not labor in vain when you attempt to kill Me? What then is their reply? Now we know that you have a devil. Not so spoke the woman of Samaria. She said not to Him, You have a devil; but only, Are you greater than our father Jacob? John 4:12 For these men were insolent and accursed, while she desired to learn; wherefore she doubted and answered with proper moderation, and called Him, Lord. For one who promised far greater things, and who was worthy of credit, ought not to have been insulted, but even admired; yet these men said that He had a devil. Those expressions of the Samaritan woman were those of one in doubt; these were the words of men unbelieving and perverse. Are you greater than our father Abraham? so that this (which He had said) makes Him to be greater than Abraham. When therefore you have seen Him lifted up, you shall confess that He is greater. On this account He said, When you have lifted Me up, you shall know that I Am. John 8:28 And observe His wisdom. Having first rent them away from Abraham's kindred, He shows that He is greater than Abraham, that so He мая be seen to be very exceedingly greater than the Prophets also. Indeed it was because they continually called Him a prophet that He said, My word has no place in you. John 8:37 In that other place He declared that He raises the dead, but here He says, He that believes shall never see death, which was a much greater thing than not to allow believers to be holden, by death. Wherefore the Jews were the more enraged. What then say they?

Whom makest you yourself?

And this too in an insulting manner. You are taking somewhat upon yourself, says one of them. To this then Christ replies;

John 8:54

If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing.

2. What say the heretics here? That He heard the question, Are you greater than our father Abraham? and dared not to say to them, Yea, I am greater, but did so in a covert manner. What then? Is His honor nothing? With respect to them it is nothing. And as He said, My witness is not true John 5:31, with reference to the opinion they would form of it, so also does He speak here.

There is One that honors Me.

And wherefore said He not, The Father that sent Me, as He did before, but,

Of whom you say that He is your God.

John 8:55

Yet you have not known Him.

Because He desired to show that they not only knew not His Father, but that they knew not God.

But I know Him.

So that to say, 'I know Him,' is not a boast, while to say, 'I know Him not,' would be a falsehood; but you when you say that you know Him, lie; as then ye, when you say that you know Him, lie, so also should I, were I to say that I know Him not.

If I honor Myself. Since they said, Whom makest you yourself? He replies, If I make (Myself anything,) My honor is nothing. As then I know Him exactly, so ye know Him not. And as in the case of Abraham, He did not take away their whole assertion, but said, I know that you are Abraham's seed, so as to make the charge against them heavier; thus here He does not remove the whole, but what? Whom ye say. By granting to them their boast of words, He increases the force of the accusation against them. How then do ye not know Him? Because ye insult One who says and does everything that He мая be glorified, even when that One is sent from Him. This assertion is unsupported by testimony, but what follows serves to establish it.

And I keep His saying.

Here they might, if at least they had anything to say, have refuted Him, for it was the strongest proof of His having been sent by God.

John 8:56

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad.

Again, He shows that they were aliens from the race of Abraham, if they grieved at what he rejoiced in. My day, seems to me to mean the day of the Crucifixion, which Abraham foreshowed typically by the offering of the ram and of Isaac. What do they reply?

John 8:57

You are not yet forty years old, and have You seen Abraham?

So that we conclude that Christ was nearly forty.

John 8:58–59

Jesus says unto them, Before Abraham was, I Am. Then took they up stones to cast at Him.

Do you see how He proved Himself to be greater than Abraham? For the man who rejoiced to see His day, and made this an object of earnest desire, plainly did so because it was a day that should be for a benefit, and belonging to one greater than himself. Because they had said, The carpenter's son Matthew 13:55, and imagined nothing more concerning Him, He leads them by degrees to an exalted notion of Him. Therefore when they heard the words, You know not God, they were not grieved; but when they heard, before Abraham was, I Am, as though the nobility of their descent were debased, they became furious, and would have stoned Him.

He saw My day, and was glad. He shows, that not unwillingly He came to His Passion, since He praises him who was gladdened at the Cross. For this was the salvation of the world. But they cast stones at Him; so ready were they for murder, and they did this of their own accord, without enquiry.

But wherefore said He not, Before Abraham was, I was, instead of I Am? As the Father uses this expression, I Am, so also does Christ; for it signifies continuous Being, irrespective of all time. On which account the expression seemed to them to be blasphemous. Now if they could not bear the comparison with Abraham, although this was but a trifling one, had He continually made Himself equal to the Father, would they ever have ceased casting stones at Him?

After this, again He flees as a man, and conceals Himself, having laid before them sufficient instruction: and having accomplished His work, He went forth from the Temple, and departed to heal the blind, proving by His actions that He is before Abraham. But perhaps some one will say, Why did He not paralyze their strength? So they would have believed. He healed the paralytic, yet they believed not; nay, He wrought ten thousand wonders; at the very Passion He cast them to the ground, and darkened their eyes, yet they believed not; and how would they have believed if He had paralyzed their strength? There is nothing worse than a soul hardened in desperation; though it see signs and wonders, it still perseveres in retaining the same shamelessness. Thus Pharaoh, who received ten thousand strokes, was sobered only while being punished, and continued of this character until the last day of his life, pursuing those whom he had let go. Wherefore Paul continually says, Lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13 For as the callosities of the body, when formed, become dead, and possess no sensation; so the soul, when it is occupied by many passions, becomes dead to virtue; and apply what you will to it, it gets no perception of the matter, but whether you threaten punishment or anything else, continues insensible.

3. Wherefore I beseech you, while we have hopes of salvation, while we can turn, to use every means to do so. For men who have become past feeling, are after that in the blind state of despairing pilots, who give up their vessel to the wind, and themselves contribute no assistance. Thus the envious man looks to one thing only, that is, to satisfy his lust, and though he be like to be punished or even slain, still he is possessed solely by that passion; and in like manner the intemperate and avaricious. But if the sovereignty of the passions be so great, much greater is that of virtue; if for them we despise death, much more for this; if they (sinners) regard not their own lives, much less ought we to do so in the cause of our salvation. For what shall we have to say, if when they who perish are so active about their own perdition, we for our own salvation manifest not even an equal activity, but ever continue wasting with envy? Nothing is worse than envy; to destroy another it destroys itself also. The eye of the envious wastes away in grief, he lives in a continual death, he deems all men, even those who have never wronged him, his enemies. He grieves that God is honored, he rejoices in what the devil rejoices in. Is any honored among men? This is not honor, envy him not. But is he honored by God? Strive and be thou like him. You will not? Why then do you destroy yourself too? Why do you cast away what you have? Can you not be like him, nor gain any good thing? Why then do you besides this take for yourself evil, when you ought to rejoice with him, that so even if you be not able to share his toils, you мая profit by rejoicing with Him? For often even the will is able to effect great good. At least Ezekiel says, that the Moabites were punished because they rejoiced over the Israelites, and that certain others were saved because they mourned over the misfortunes of their neighbors. Ezekiel 25:8 Now if there be any comfort for those who mourn over the woes of others, much more for those who rejoice at the honors of others. He charged the Moabites with having exulted over the Israelites, yet it was God that punished them; but not even when He punishes will He have us rejoice over those that are punished. For it is not His wish to punish them. Now if we must condole with those who are punished, much more must we avoid envying those who are honored. Thus, for example, Corah and Dathan perished with their company, making those whom they envied brighter, and giving themselves up to punishment. For a venomous beast is envy, an unclean beast, a deliberate vice which admits not of pardon, a wickedness stripped of excuse, the cause and mother of all evils. Wherefore let us pluck it up by the roots, that we мая be freed from evil here, and мая obtain blessings hereafter; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 56 on the Gospel of John

John 9:1–2

And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

1. And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. Being full of love for man, and caring for our salvation, and desiring to stop the mouths of the foolish, He omits nothing of His own part, though there be none to give heed. And the Prophet knowing this says, That You might be justified when You speak, and be clear when You are judged. Psalm 51:4 Wherefore here, when they would not receive His sublime sayings, but said that He had a devil, and attempted to kill Him, He went forth from the Temple, and healed the blind, mitigating their rage by His absence, and by working the miracle softening their hardness and cruelty, and establishing His assertions. And He works a miracle which was no common one, but one which took place then for the first time. Since the world began, says he who was healed, was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. John 9:32 Some have, perhaps, opened the eyes of the blind, but of one born blind never. And that on going out of the Temple, He proceeded intentionally to the work, is clear from this; it was He who saw the blind man, not the blind man who came to Him; and so earnestly did He look upon him, that even His disciples perceived it. From this, at least, they came to question Him; for when they saw Him earnestly regarding the man, they asked Him, saying, Who did sin, this man, or his parents? A mistaken question, for how could he sin before he was born? And how, if his parents had sinned, would he have been punished? Whence then came they to put this question? Before, when He healed the paralytic, He said, Behold, you are made whole, sin no more. John 5:14 They therefore, having understood that he was palsied on account of sin, said, Well, that other was palsied because of his sins; but concerning this man, what would You say? Has he sinned? It is not possible to say so, for he is blind from his birth. Have his parents sinned? Neither can one say this, for the child suffers not punishment for the father. As therefore when we see a child evil entreated, we exclaim, What can one say of this? What has the child done? not as asking a question, but as being perplexed, so the disciples spoke here, not so much asking for information, as being in perplexity. What then says Christ?

John 9:3

Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents.

This He says not as acquitting them of sins, for He says not simply, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents, but adds, that he should have been born blind – but that the Son of God should be glorified in him. For both this man has sinned and his parents, but his blindness proceeds not from that. And this He said, not signifying that though this man indeed was not in such case, yet that others had been made blind from such a cause, the sins of their parents, since it cannot be that when one sins another should be punished. For if we allow this, we must also allow that he sinned before his birth. As therefore when He declared, neither has this man sinned, He said not that it is possible to sin from one's very birth, and be punished for it; so when He said, nor his parents, He said not that one мая be punished for his parents' sake. This supposition He re moves by the mouth of Ezekiel; As I live says the Lord, this proverb shall not be, that is used, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. Ezekiel 18:3 And Moses says, The father shall not die for the child, neither shall the child die for the father. Deuteronomy 24:16 And of a certain king Scripture says, that for this very reason he did not this thing, observing the law of Moses. But if any one argue, How then is it said, 'Who visits the sins of the parents upon the children unto the third and fourth generation'? Deuteronomy 5:9; we should make this answer, that the assertion is not universal, but that it is spoken with reference to certain who came out of Egypt. And its meaning is of this kind; Since these who have come out of Egypt, after signs and wonders, have become worse than their forefathers who saw none of these things, they shall suffer, It says, the same that those others suffered, since they have dared the same crimes. And that it was spoken of those men, any one who will give attention to the passage will more certainly know. Wherefore then was he born blind?

That the glory of God should be made manifest, He says.

Lo, here again is another difficulty, if without this man's punishment, it was not possible that the glory of God should be shown. Certainly it is not said that it was impossible, for it was possible, but, that it might be manifested even in this man. What, says some one, did he suffer wrong for the glory of God? What wrong, tell me? For what if God had never willed to produce him at all? But I assert that he even received benefit from his blindness: since he recovered the sight of the eyes within. What were the Jews profited by their eyes? They incurred the heavier punishment, being blinded even while they saw. And what injury had this man by his blindness? For by means of it he recovered sight. As then the evils of the present life are not evils, so neither are the good things good; sin alone is an evil, but blindness is not an evil. And He who had brought this man from not being into being, had also power to leave him as he was.

2. But some say, that this conjunction is not at all expressive of cause, but relates to the consequence of the miracle; as when He says, For judgment I have come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind John 9:39; and yet it was not for this He came, that those who saw might be made blind. And again Paul, Because that which мая be known of God is manifested in them, that they мая be without excuse Romans 1:19–20; yet He showed it not unto them for this, that they might be deprived of excuse, but that they might obtain excuse. And again in another place, The Law entered, that the offense might abound Romans 5:20; yet it was not for this that it entered, but that sin might be checked. Do you see everywhere that the conjunction relates to the consequence? For as some excellent architect мая build part of a house, and leave the rest unfinished, so that to those who believe not he мая prove, by means of that remnant, that he is author of the whole; so also God joins together and completes our body, as it were a house decayed, healing the withered hand, bracing the palsied limbs, straightening the lame, cleansing the lepers, raising up the sick, making sound the crippled, recalling the dead from death, opening the eyes that were closed, or adding them where before they were not; all which things, being blemishes arising from the infirmity of our nature, He by correcting showed His power.

But when He said, That the glory of God might be manifested, He spoke of Himself, not of the Father; His glory was already manifest. For since they had heard that God made man, taking the dust of the earth, so also Christ made clay. To have said, I am He who took the dust of the earth, and made man, would have seemed a hard thing to His hearers; but this when shown by actual working, no longer stood in their way. So that He by taking earth, and mixing it with spittle, showed forth His hidden glory; for no small glory was it that He should be deemed the Architect of the creation.

And after this the rest also followed; from the part, the whole was proved, since the belief of the greater also confirmed the less. For man is more honorable than any created thing, and of our members the most honorable is the eye. This is the cause that He fashioned the eyes, not in a common manner, but in the way that He did. For though that member be small in size, yet it is more necessary than any part of the body. And this Paul showed when he said, If the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 1Corinthians 12:16 For all indeed that is in us is a manifestation of the wisdom of God, but much more the eye; this it is that guides the whole body, this gives beauty to it all, this adorns the countenance, this is the light of all the limbs. What the sun is in the world, that the eye is in the body; quench the sun, and you destroy and confound all things; quench the eyes, and the feet, the hands, the soul, are useless. When these are disabled, even knowledge is gone, since by means of these we know God. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. Romans 1:20 Wherefore the eye is not only a light to the body, but beyond the body to the soul also. On which account it is established as in a royal fortress, obtaining the higher condition, and presiding over the other senses. This then Christ forms.

And that you мая not deem that He needs matter when He works, and that you мая learn that He had not need at all of clay, (for He who brought into being the greater existences when as yet they were not, would much more have made this without matter,) that I say you мая learn that He did not this through necessity, but to show that He was the Creator at the beginning, when He had spread on the clay He says, Go, wash, that you мая know that I need not clay to create eyes, but that My glory мая be manifested hereby. For to show that He spoke of Himself when He said, That the glory of God мая be manifested, He added,

John 9:4

I must work the works of Him that sent Me.

That is, I must manifest Myself, and do the things which мая show that I do the same things with the Father; not things similar, but, the same, an expression which marks greater unvaryingness, and which is used of those who do not differ ever so little. Who then after this will face Him, when he sees that He has the same power with the Father? For not only did He form or open eyes, but gave also the gift of sight, which is a proof that He also breathed in the soul. Since if that did not work, the eye, though perfected, could never see anything; so that He gave both the energy which is from the soul, and gave the member also possessing all things, both arteries and nerves and veins, and all things of which our body is composed.

I must work while it is day.

What mean these words? To what conclusion do they lead? To an important one. For what He says is of this kind. While it is day, while men мая believe in Me, while this life lasts, I must work.

The night comes, that is, futurity, when no man can work.

He said not, when I cannot work, but, when no man can work: that is, when there is no longer faith, nor labors, nor repentance. For to show that He calls faith, a work, when they say unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? John 6:28, He replies, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent. How then can no man work this work in the future world? Because there faith is not, but all, willingly, or unwillingly, will submit. For lest any one should say that He acted as He did from desire of honor, He shows that He did all to spare them who had power to believe here only, but who could no longer there gain any good thing. On this account, though the blind man came not to Him, He did what He did: for that the man was worthy to be healed, that had he seen he would have believed and come to Christ, that had he heard from any that He was present, he would not even so have been neglectful, is clear from what follows, from his courage, from his very faith. For it was likely that he would have considered with himself, and have said, What is this? He made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, 'Go, wash;' could he not have healed me, and then have sent me to Siloam? Often have I washed there with many others, and have gained no good; had he possessed any power, he would while present have healed me. Just as Naaman spoke respecting Elisha; for he too being commanded to go wash in Jordan, believed not, and this too when there was such a fame abroad concerning Elisha. 2 Kings 5:11 But the blind man neither disbelieved, nor contradicted, nor reasoned with himself, What is this? Ought he to have put on clay? This is rather to blind one the more: who ever recovered sight so? But he used no such reasonings. Do you see his steadfast faith and zeal?

The night comes. Next He shows, that even after the Crucifixion He would care for the ungodly, and bring many to Himself. For it is yet day. But after that, He entirely cuts them off, and declaring this, He says,

John 9:5

As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.

3. As also He said to others, Believe while the light is with you. John 12:36 Wherefore then did Paul call this life night and that other day? Not opposing Christ, but saying the same thing, if not in words yet in sense; for he also says, The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Romans 13:12 The present time he calls night, because of those who sit in darkness, or because he compares it with that day which is to come, Christ calls the future night, because there sin has no power to work; but Paul calls the present life night, because they are in darkness who continue in wickedness and unbelief. Addressing himself then to the faithful he said, The night is far spent, the day is at hand, since they should enjoy that light; and he calls the old life night. Let us put away, he says, the works of darkness. Do you see that he tells them that it is night? Wherefore he says, Let us walk honestly as in the day, that we мая enjoy that light. For if this light be so good, consider what that will be; as much as the sunlight is brighter than the flame of a candle, so much and far more is that light better than this. And signifying this, Christ says, that the sun shall be darkened. Because of the excess of that brightness, not even the sun shall be seen.

If now in order to have here well-lighted and airy houses, we expend immense sums, building and toiling, consider how we ought to spend our very bodies themselves, that glorious houses мая be built for us in the heavens where is that Light ineffable. Here there are strifes and contentions about boundaries and walls, but there will be nothing of the kind there, no envy, no malice, no one will dispute with us about settling boundaries. This dwelling too we assuredly needs must leave, but that abides with us forever; this must decay by time, and be exposed to innumerable injuries, but that must remain without growing old perpetually; this a poor man cannot build, but that other one мая build with two mites, as did the widow. Wherefore I choke with grief, that when so many blessings are laid before us, we are slothful, and despise them; we use every exertion to have splendid houses here, but how to gain in heaven so much as a little resting-place, we care not, we think not. For tell me, where would you have your dwelling here? In the wilderness, or in one of the smaller cities? I think not; but in some of the most royal and grand cities, where the traffic is more, where the splendor is greater. But I will lead you into such a City, whose Builder and Maker is God; there I exhort you to found and build, at less cost [with less labor ]. That house the hands of the poor build, and it is most truly building, just as the structures made here are the work of extreme folly. For if a man were to bring you into the land of Persia, to behold what is there and to return, and were then to bid you build houses there, would you not condemn him for excessive folly, as bidding you spend unseasonably? How then do you this very same thing upon the earth which you shall shortly leave? But I shall leave it to my children, says some one. Yet they too shall leave it soon after you; nay, often even before you; and their successors the same. And even here it is a subject of melancholy to you that you see not your heirs retain their possessions, but there you need apprehend nothing of the sort; the possession remains immovable, to you, to your children, and to their descendants, if they imitate the same goodness. That building Christ takes in hand, he who builds that needs not to appoint care-takers, nor be thoughtful, nor anxious; for when God has undertaken the work, what need of thought? He brings all things together, and raises the house. Nor is this the only thing wonderful, but also that He so builds it as is pleasing to you, or rather even beyond what is pleasing, beyond what you desire, for He is the most excellent Artist, and cares greatly for your advantage. If you are poor, and desirest to build this house, it brings you no envy, produces against you no malice, for none of those who know how to envy behold it, but the Angels who know how to rejoice at your blessings; none will be able to encroach upon it, for none dwell near it of those who are diseased with such passions. For neighbors you have there the saints, Peter and Paul with their company, all the Prophets, the Martyrs, the multitude of Angels, of Archangels. For the sake then of all these things, let us empty our substance upon the poor, that we мая obtain those tabernacles; which мая we all obtain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Homily 57 on the Gospel of John

John 9:6–7

When Jesus had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.

1. Those who intend to gain any advantage from what they read, must not pass by even any small portion of the words; and on this account we are bidden to search the Scriptures, because most of the words, although at first sight easy, appear to have in their depth much hidden meaning. For observe of what sort is the present case. Having said these words, It says, He spat on the ground. What words? That the glory of God should be made manifest, and that, I must work the works of Him that sent Me. For not without a cause has the Evangelist mentioned to us His words, and added that, He spat, but to show that He confirmed His words by deeds. And why used He not water instead of spittle for the clay? He was about to send the man to Siloam: in order therefore that nothing might be ascribed to the fountain, but that you might learn that the power proceeding from His mouth, the same both formed and opened the man's eyes, He spat on the ground; this at least the Evangelist signified, when he said, And made clay of the spittle. Then, that the successful issue might not seem to be of the earth, He bade him wash. But wherefore did He not this at once, instead of sending him to Siloam? That you мая learn the faith of the blind man, and that the obstinacy of the Jews might be silenced: for it was probable that they would all see him as he departed, having the clay spread upon his eyes, since by the strangeness of the thing he would attract to himself all, both those who did and those who did not know him, and they would observe him exactly. And because it is not easy to recognize a blind man who has recovered sight, He first makes by the length of way many to be witnesses, and by the strangeness of the spectacle exact observers, that being more attentive they мая no longer be able to say, It is he: it is not he. Moreover, by sending him to Siloam, He desires to prove that He is not estranged from the Law and the Old (Covenant), nor could it afterwards be feared that Siloam would receive the glory, since many who had often washed their eyes there gained no such benefit; for there also it was the power of Christ that wrought all. On which account the Evangelist adds for us the interpretation of the name; for having said, in Siloam, he adds,

Which is, Sent.

That you мая learn that there also it was Christ who healed him. As Paul says, They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 1Corinthians 10:4 As then Christ was the spiritual Rock, so also was He the spiritual Siloam. To me also the sudden coming in of the water seems to hint an ineffable mystery. What is that? The unlooked for (nature) of His appearance, beyond all expectation.

But observe the mind of the blind man, obedient in everything. He said not, If it is really the clay or the spittle which gives me eyes, what need of Siloam? Or if there be need of Siloam, what need of the clay? Why did he anoint me? Why bid me wash? But he entertained no such thoughts, he held himself prepared for one thing only, to obey in all things Him who gave the command, and nothing that was done offended him. If any one ask, How then did he recover his sight, when he had removed the clay? he will hear no other answer from us than that we know not the manner. And what wonder if we know it not, since not even the Evangelist knew, nor the very man that was healed? What had been done he knew, but the manner of doing it he could not comprehend. So when he was asked he said, that He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and do see; but how this took place he cannot tell them, though they ask ten thousand times.

John 9:8–9

The neighbors therefore, and they which had seen him, that he was a beggar, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he.

The strangeness of what had been brought to pass led them even to unbelief, though so much had been contrived that they might not disbelieve. They said, Is not this he that sat and begged? O the lovingkindness of God! Whither did He descend, when with great kindness He healed even beggars, and so silenced the Jews, because He deemed not the illustrious, nor the distinguished, nor the rulers, but men of no mark to be fit objects of the same Providence. For He came for the salvation of all.

And what happened in the case of the paralytic, happened also with this man, for neither did the one or the other know who it was that healed him. And this was caused by the retirement of Christ, for Jesus when He healed always retired, that all suspicion might be removed from the miracles. Since how could they who knew not who He was flatter Him, or join in contriving what had been done? Neither was this man one of those who went about, but of those who sat at the doors of the Temple. Now when all were doubting concerning him, what says he?

I am he.

He was not ashamed of his former blindness, nor did he fear the wrath of the people, nor did he decline showing himself that he might proclaim his Benefactor.

John 9:10–11

They said to him, How were your eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus.

What do you say? Does a man work such deeds? As yet he knew nothing great concerning Him.

A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes.

2. Observe how truthful he is. He says not whence He made it, for he speaks not of what he does not know; he saw not that He spat on the ground, but that He spread it on he knew from sense and touch.

And said to me, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.

This too his hearing witnessed to him. But how did he recognize His voice? From His conversation with the disciples. And saying all this, and having received the witness by the works, the manner (of the cure) he cannot tell. Now if faith is needed in matters which are felt and handled, much more in the case of things invisible.

John 9:12

They said to him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

They said, Where is he? having already murderous intentions against Him. But observe the modesty of Christ, how He continued not with those who were healed; because He neither desired to reap glory, nor to draw a multitude, nor to make a show of Himself. Observe too how truthfully the blind man makes all his answers. The Jews desired to find Christ to bring Him to the priests, but when they did not find Him, they brought the blind man to the Pharisees, as to those who would question him more severely. For which reason the Evangelist remarks, that it was the Sabbath John 9:14, in order to point out their wicked thoughts, and the cause for which they sought Him, as though forsooth they had found a handle, and could disparage the miracle by means of what appeared to be a transgression of the Law. And this is clear from their saying immediately on seeing him nothing but, How opened he your eyes? Observe also the manner of their speech; they say not, How did you receive your sight? but, How opened he your eyes? thus affording him an excuse for slandering Jesus, because of His having worked. But he speaks to them shortly, as to men who had already heard; for without mentioning His name, or that He said to me, Go, wash, he at once says,

John 9:15

He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and do see.

Because the slander was now become great, and the Jews had said, Behold what work Jesus does on the Sabbath day, he anoints with clay! But observe, I pray you, how the blind man is not disturbed. When being questioned he spoke in the presence of those others without danger, it was no such great thing to tell the truth, but the wonder is, that now when he is placed in a situation of greater fear, he neither denies nor contradicts what he had said before. What then did the Pharisees, or rather what did the others also? They had brought him (to the Pharisees), as being about to deny; but, on the contrary, that befell them which they desired not, and they learned more exactly. And this they everywhere have to endure, in the case of miracles; but this point we will more clearly demonstrate in what follows. What said the Pharisees?

John 9:16

Some said, (not all, but the more forward,) This man is not of God, because he keeps not the Sabbath day; others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?

Do you see that they were led up by the miracles? For hear what they say now, who before this had sent to bring Him. And if all did not so, (for being rulers through vainglory they fell into unbelief,) yet still the greater number even of the rulers believed on Him, but confessed Him not. Now the multitude was easily overlooked, as being of no great account in their synagogue, but the rulers being more conspicuous had the greater difficulty in speaking boldly, or some the love of rule restrained, others cowardice, and the fear of the many. Wherefore also He said, How can you believe who receive honor from men? John 5:44 And these who were seeking to kill Him unjustly said that they were of God, but that He who healed the blind could not be of God, because He kept not the Sabbath; to which the others objected, that a sinner could not do such miracles. Those first maliciously keeping silence about what had taken place, brought forward the seeming transgression; for they said not, He heals on the Sabbath day, but, He keeps not the Sabbath. These, on the other hand, replied weakly, for when they ought to have shown that the Sabbath was not broken, they rely only upon the miracles; and with reason, for they still thought that He was a man. If this had not been the case, they might besides have urged in His defense, that He was Lord of the Sabbath which Himself had made, but as yet they had not this opinion. Anyhow, none of them dared to say what he wished openly, or in the way of an assertion, but only in the way of doubt, some from not having boldness of speech, others through love of rule.

There was therefore a division among them. This division first began among the people, then later among the rulers also, and some said, He is a good man; others, Nay, but he deceives the people. John 7:12 Do you see that the rulers were more void of understanding than the many, since they were divided later than they? And after they were divided, they did not exhibit any noble feeling, when they saw the Pharisees pressing upon them. Since had they been entirely separated from them, they would soon have known the truth. For it is possible to do well in separating. Wherefore also Himself has said, I have come not to bring peace upon the earth but a sword. Matthew 10:34 For there is an evil concord, and there is a good disagreement. Thus they who built the tower Genesis 11:4, agreed together to their own hurt; and these same again were separated, though unwillingly, yet for their good. Thus also Corah and his company agreed together for evil, therefore they were separated for good; and Judas agreed with the Jews for evil. So division мая be good, and agreement мая be evil. Wherefore It says, If your eye offend you, smite it out, if your foot, cut it off. Matthew 5:29, and 18:8 Now if we must separate ourselves from an ill-joined limb, must we not much more from friends united to us for evil ? So that agreement is not in all cases a good, just as division is not in all cases an evil.

3. These things I say, that we мая shun wicked men, and follow the good; for if in the case of our limbs we cut off that which is rotten and incurable, fearing lest the rest of the body should catch the same disease, and if we do this not as having no care for that part, but rather as desiring to preserve the remainder, how much more must we do this in the case of those who consent with us for evil? If we can set them right without receiving injury ourselves, we ought to use every means to do so; but if they remain incorrigible and мая injure us, it is necessary to cut them off and cast them away. For so they will often be gainers rather (than losers). Wherefore also Paul exhorted, saying, And you shall put away from among yourselves that wicked person; and, that he that has done this deed мая be put away from among you. 1Corinthians 5:13 A dreadful thing, dreadful indeed, is the society of wicked men; not so quickly does the pestilence seize or the itch infect those that come in contact with such as are under the disease, as does the wickedness of evil men. For evil communications corrupt good manners. 1Corinthians 15:33 And again the Prophet says, Come out from among them, and be ye separate. Isaiah 52:11 Let no one then have a wicked man for his friend. For if when we have bad sons we publicly disclaim them, without regarding nature or its laws, or the constraint which it lays upon us, much more ought we to fly from our companions and acquaintances when they are wicked. Because even if we receive no injury from them, we shall anyhow not be able to escape ill report, for strangers search not into our lives, but judge us from our companions. This advice I address to young men and maidens. Providing, It says, things honest, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of all men. Romans 12:17 Let us then use every means that our neighbor be not offended. For a life, though it be very upright, if it offend others has lost all. But how is it possible for the life that is upright to offend? When the society of those that are not upright invests it with an evil reputation; for when, trusting in ourselves, we consort with bad men, even though we be not harmed, we offend others. These things I say to men and women and maidens, leaving it to their conscience to see exactly how many evils are produced from this source. Neither I, perhaps, nor any of the more perfect, suspect any ill; but the simpler brother is harmed by occasion of your perfection; and you ought to be careful also for his infirmity. And even if he receive no injury, yet the Greek is harmed. Now Paul bids us be without offense, both to Jews and Greeks, and to the Church of God. 1Corinthians 10:32 (I think no evil of the virgin, for I love virginity, and love thinks no evil 1Corinthians 13:5; I am a great admirer of that state of life, and I cannot have so much as an unseemly thought about it.) How shall we persuade those that are without? For we must take forethought for them also. Let us then so order what relates to ourselves, that none of the unbelievers мая be able even to find a just handle of accusation against us. For as they who show forth a right life glorify God, so they who do the contrary cause Him to be blasphemed. мая no such persons be among us: but мая our works so shine, that our Father which is in Heaven мая be glorified, and that we мая enjoy the honor which is from Him. To which мая we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Homily 58 on the Gospel of John

John 9:17–18

They say unto the blind man again, What do you say of him, that he has opened your eyes? He said, He is a Prophet. The Jews then did not believe.

1. We must go over the Scriptures not in a chance way or carelessly, but with all exactness, that we be not entangled. Since even now in this place one might with show of reason question, how, when they had asserted, This man is not of God, because he keeps not the Sabbath, they now say to the man, What do you say of him, that he has opened your eyes? and not, What do you say of him, that he has broken the Sabbath? but put now that which was the ground of the defense, not that of the accusation. What then have we to reply? That these (who speak) are not the men who said, This man is not of God, but those who separated themselves from them, who also said, A man that is a sinner cannot do such miracles. For desiring to silence their opponents the more, in order that they мая not seem to be partisans of Christ, they bring forward the man who had received proof of His power, and question him. Observe now the wisdom of the poor man, he speaks more wisely than them all. First he says, He is a Prophet; and shrank not from the judgment of the perverse Jews who spoke against Him and said, How can this man be of God, not keeping the Sabbath? but replied to them, He is a Prophet.

And they did not believe that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they had called his parents.

Observe in how many ways they attempt to obscure and take away the miracle. But this is the nature of truth, by the very means by which it seems to be assailed by men, by these it becomes stronger, it shines by means of that by which it is obscured. For if these things had not taken place, the miracle might have been suspected by the many; but now, as if desiring to lay bare the truth, so do they use all means, and would not have acted otherwise, supposing they had done all in Christ's behalf. For they first attempted to cast Him down by occasion of this mode (of cure), saying, How opened he your eyes? that is, was it by some sorcery? In another place also, when they had no charge to bring against Him, they endeavored to insult the mode of the cure, saying, He does not cast out devils save by Beelzebub. Matthew 12:24 And here again, when they have nothing to say, they betake themselves to the time (of cure), saying, He breaks the Sabbath; and again, He is a sinner. Yet He asked you, who would slay Him, and who were ready to lay hold of His actions, most plainly, saying, Which of you convinces Me of sin? John 8:46; and no man spoke, nor said Thou blaspheme because you make yourself without sin. But if they had had it in their power to say so, they would not have held their peace. For they who because they heard that He was before Abraham would have stoned Him, and said that He was not of God, who boasted that they, murderers as they were, were of God, but who said that One who did such wonders, after that He had wrought a cure, was not of God, because He kept not the Sabbath, if they had had but a shadow of a charge against Him, would never have let it pass. And if they call Him a sinner because He seemed to break the Sabbath, this charge also is shown to be unsound, when those who are ranked with them condemn their great coldness and littleness of soul. Being therefore entangled on every side, they afterwards betake themselves to something else more shameless and impudent. What is that? They did not believe, It says, that he had been blind, and received his sight. How then did they charge Christ with not keeping the Sabbath? Plainly, as having believed. But why gave ye not heed to the great number of people? To the neighbors who knew him? As I said, falsehood everywhere defeats itself by the very means by which it seems to annoy the truth, and makes the truth to appear more bright. Which was now the case. For that no one might say that his neighbors and those who had seen him did not speak with precision, but guessed from a likeness, they bring forward his parents, by whom they succeeded against their will in proving that what had taken place was real, since the parents best of all knew their own child. When they could not terrify the man himself, but beheld him with all boldness proclaim his Benefactor, they thought to wound the miracle by means of his parents. Observe the malice of their questioning. For what says it? Having placed them in the midst so as to throw them into distress, they apply the questioning with great severity and anger,

John 9:19

Is this your son? (and they said not, who once was blind, but) of whom you say that he was born blind?

As if they were acting deceitfully, and plotting on behalf of Christ. O you accursed, utterly accursed! What father would choose to invent such falsehoods against his child? For they almost say, Whom you have made out blind, and not only so, but have spread abroad the report everywhere.

How then does he now see?

2. O folly! Yours, says one, is the trick and the contrivance. For by these two things do they attempt to lead the parents to a denial; by using the words, Whom ye say, and, How then does he now see? Now when there were three questions asked, whether he was their son, whether he had been blind, and how he received his sight, the parents only acknowledged two of them, but do not add the third. And this came to pass for the sake of the truth, in order that none other save the man that was healed, who was also worthy of credit, should acknowledge this matter. And how would the parents have favored (Christ), when even of what they knew some part they spoke not through fear of the Jews? What say they?

John 9:20–21

We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we know not, or who has opened his eyes we know not; he is of age, he shall speak for himself.

By making him to be worthy of credit, they begged off themselves; He is not a child, say they, nor incapable, but able to testify for himself.

John 9:22

These words spoke they, because they feared the Jews.

Observe how the Evangelist again brings forward their opinion and thoughts. This I say, because of that speech which they before uttered, when they said, He makes Himself equal to God. John 5:18 For had that also been the opinion of the Jews but not the judgment of Christ, he would have added and said, that it was a Jewish opinion. When therefore the parents referred them to him that had been healed, they called him again the second time, and did not say openly and shamelessly, Deny that Christ healed you, but would fain effect this under a pretense of piety.

John 9:24

Give the glory to God.

For to have said to the parents, Deny that he is your son, and that he was born blind, would have seemed very ridiculous. And again, to have said this to himself would have been manifest shamelessness. Wherefore they say not so, but manage the matter in another way, saying, Give God the glory, that is, confess that this man has wrought nothing.

We know that this man is a sinner.

Why then did ye not convict Him when He said, 'Which of you convinces Me of sin?' John 8:46 Whence know ye that He is a sinner? After that they had said, Give God the glory, and the man had made no reply, Christ meeting praised him, and did not rebuke him, nor say, Wherefore have you not given glory to God? But what said He? Do you believe in the Son of God? John 9:35, that you мая learn that this is to give glory to God. Now had He not been equal in honor to the Father, this would not have been giving glory; but since he that honors the Son honors the Father also, the blind is with good reason not rebuked. Now while they expected that the parents would contradict and deny the miracle, the Pharisees said nothing to the man himself, but when they saw that they profited nothing by this, they again return to him, saying, This man is a sinner.

John 9:25

He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not; one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

Surely the blind man was not terrified? That be far from him. How then does he who said, He is a Prophet John 9:17, now say, Whether he be a sinner, I know not? He said so, not as being in such a state of mind, nor as having persuaded himself of this thing, but desiring to clear Him from their charges by the testimony of the fact, not by his own declaration, and to make the defense credible, when the testimony of the good deed done should decide the matter against them. Since if after many words when the blind man said, Except this were a righteous man he could not do such miracles John 9:33, they were so enraged as to reply, You were altogether born in sin, and do you teach us? what would they not have said, if he had spoken so from the beginning; what would they not have done? Whether he be a sinner or not, I know not; as though he had said, I say nothing in this man's favor, I make no declaration at present, yet this I certainly know and would affirm, that if he were a sinner he could not have done such things. Thus he kept himself free from suspicion, and his testimony uncorrupted, as not speaking from partiality, but as bearing witness according to the fact. When therefore they could neither upset nor remove what had been done, they again return to their former plan, making trifling enquiries about the manner of the cure, like men who search on every side about a prey which is before them, and cannot be hurt, hastening round now in one direction, now in another; and they recur to the man's former assertions, in order now to make them unsound by continual questions, and say,

John 9:26

What did he to you? How opened he your eyes?

What was his reply? Having conquered and cast them down, he no longer speaks to them submissly. As long as the matter needed enquiry and arguments he spoke guardedly, while he supplied the proof; but when he had conquered and gained a splendid victory, he then takes courage, and tramples upon them. What says he?

John 9:27

I have told you once, and you did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again?

Do you see the bold-speaking of a beggar towards Scribes and Pharisees? So strong is truth, so weak is falsehood. Truth, though she take hold but of ordinary men, makes them to appear glorious; the other, even though it be with the strong, shows them weak. What he says is of this kind: You give no heed to my words, therefore I will no longer speak or answer you continually, who question me to no purpose, and who do not desire to hear in order to learn, but that you мая insult over my words.

Will ye also be His disciples?

3. Now he has ranked himself among the band of disciples, for the will you also? is the expression of one who is declaring himself to be a disciple. Then he mocked and annoyed them abundantly. For since he knew that this struck them hard, he said it, wishing to upbraid them with exceeding severity; the act of a soul courageous, soaring on high and despising their madness, pointing out the greatness of this dignity, in which he was very confident, and showing that they insulted him who was a man worthy to be admired, but that he took not the insult to himself, but grasped as an honor what they offered as a reproach.

John 9:28

You are his disciple, but we are Moses' disciples.

But this cannot be. You are neither Moses' nor this Man's; for were ye Moses', you would become this Man's also. Wherefore Christ before said to them, because they were continually betaking themselves to these speeches, Had ye believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me. John 5:46

John 9:29

We know that God spoke unto Moses.

By whose word, whose report? That of our forefathers, says one. Is not He then more to be believed than your forefathers, who confirms by miracles that He came from God, and that He speaks things from above? They said not, We have heard that God spoke to Moses, but, We know. Do ye affirm, O Jews, what you have by hearing, as knowing it, but deem what you have by sight as less certain than what you have by hearing? Yet the one ye saw not, but heard, the other ye did not hear, but saw. What then says the blind man?

John 9:30

Why herein is a marvelous thing, that you know not whence He is, and He does such miracles.

That a Man, who is not one of the distinguished or noble or illustrious among you, can do such things; so that it is in every way clear that He is God, needing no human aid.

John 9:31

We know that God hears not sinners.

Since they had been the first to say, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? John 9:16, he now brings forward even their judgment, reminding them of their own words. This opinion, says he, is common to me and you. Stand fast now to it. And observe, I pray you, his wisdom. He turns about the miracle in every way, because they could not do away with it, and from it he draws his inferences. Do you see that at first he said Whether he be a sinner or not, I know not? Not doubting (God forbid!) but knowing that He was not a sinner. At least now, when he had an opportunity, see how he defended Him. We know that God hears not sinners:

But if any man be a worshiper of God, and does His will.

Here he not only has cleared Him from sin, but declares that He is very pleasing to God, and does all His will. For since they called themselves worshipers of God, he added, and does His will; since, says he, it is not sufficient to know God: men must also do His will. Then he magnifies what had been done, saying,

John 9:32

Since the world be